News from the Park

News from the Park

Anyone who knows me would likely agree that I truly am a Northerner through and through. I will admit that at times, though not often, I do take advantage of some opportunities that are more urban in nature, such as professional sports, musical concerts and theatre. Toronto’s reputation as a cultural centre is growing. There are some truly talented actors on Toronto’s stages, but I can tell you for sure one place where you won’t find good actors at the moment: the Ontario Legislature.

Let’s be totally honest here. It is not exactly a surprise when a new party forms a new government for them to announce that, after studying the financial books, the bottom line is far worse than they ever anticipated. All parties, federal and provincial, do this in hopes of deflecting some of the blame from less popular decisions in an effort to set the stage as they plan to implement changes they feel are necessary.

Last month the government released a hasty review of the books, singling out spending in health care, education, social services, and post-secondary education. The Ford Tories feigned overwhelming shock over the provincial deficit, despite the Auditor General having consistently revealed the deficit numbers which the Tories now pretend to be surprised by. But one has to understand that, while Toronto may be renowned for its theatre, the Ford Tories are becoming renowned for their theatrics. And truly there is a difference.

Premier Ford and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli say they are totally shocked by a deficit that no one else finds even surprising. Doug Ford is setting the stage for deep and painful cuts to our schools, our hospitals and the services we all rely on - and he’s going to claim that the deficit made him do it. But let me tell you, no one is falling for this theatrical performance.

The annual campaign to encourage people to get their flu shot has begun. Days ago the government announced with great fanfare that they ware providing Ontario hospitals with extra funding to provide more beds to meet the needs for the upcoming flu season.

However, the truth of the matter is that Doug Ford is continuing where the Liberals left off, underfunding health care and making hospital overcrowding even worse. Despite this week’s announcement which is designed to slant toward benevolence and concern, Doug Ford has actually provided $10 million less than the hospitals received last year to fund this year’s flu season. He’s doing this despite the fact that northern hospitals continue to face increased pressure and overcrowding.

We know that our northern hospitals in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie have been underfunded for years. Under the previous Liberal government, funding was cut again and again, requiring front-line health care workers to do more and more with less and less. Now, with Doug Ford at the helm, hospitals are forced to cut nursing positions and services.

Northern hospitals desperately need a permanent fix to tackle overcrowding, not temporary half measures from the Liberals and Conservatives. What Ford is offering isn’t even a band-aid solution. It seems to be more of a placebo than anything.

Hospital overcrowding is a major issue to the people in northern regions. Our hospitals are stuck making difficult decisions. Our front-line health care workers are doing their best with limited resources, but morale is low and many are left wondering if their jobs will be next on the chopping block. And for patients, that means fewer staff to care for them, and longer waits for everyone. Instead of making things better, Mr. Ford is making things worse when it comes to hospital overcrowding.

Doug Ford has already cancelled some overdose prevention sites and cut $330 million a year from mental health spending across the province. That's going to put even more pressure on emergency rooms. He has vowed to cut another $6 billion in funding, programs and services, and his health minister has warned that tough times are ahead for hospitals, warning them that they're going to have to be more ‘efficient.’

Andrea Horwath recently visited Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre where she said, “Local health care professionals are coming to the table with solutions, but Doug Ford has signaled he’s focused on cutting services, not improving them. We need to equip our hospitals with the resources they need to help people, not threaten to cut even more funding.”

It simply doesn’t need to be this way. You can't slash your way to shorter wait times. Northern Ontario families deserve a government willing to work with hospitals and be willing to invest in health care. We need a government that won’t make cuts that hurt people.

Let’s cut the theatrics and make real changes that are positive and effective.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin