Healthcare has been a hot-button topic, even before the pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed cracks in the system, and there is currently a backlog of surgeries in the province. We asked candidates running in the riding what they would do to address the issues in the healthcare system.
John Yakabuski, Progressive Conservative Candidate and incumbent MPP says when his government came in, they promised to add more hospital beds. He says his government has since approved five new long-term care homes in the county and increased the number of hospital beds by 3,100. His government has also provided a $5,000 bonus for nurses to stay in their work, hired and trained new personal support workers, and guaranteed four hours of care for each long-term care resident per day. Yakabuski says his government is also opening up new medical schools to address the doctor shortage. He says he will focus on healthcare issues in the county if reelected and will extend RC VTAC funding.
Oliver Jacob, Ontario Liberal Candidate, says there is a backlog of surgeries due to the pandemic, and his government will invest $1-billion to clear it up. He says it is not the time for private for-profit healthcare and pledges to make significant investments in acute and community care. Jacob says his party has proposals to guarantee a doctor or nurse practitioner visit within 24 hours and will continue to modernize healthcare delivery, as he has seen how virtual care has improved patient care in the province. Locally, Jacob says he will advocate that RC VTAC has more sustainable, long-term funding. He says his party will repeal Bill 124, which he says has capped healthcare workers’ wages and caused them to leave the system. Jacob says his government will work to hire 100,000 new healthcare workers and improve working conditions to bring people back into the system.
Ontario NDP Candidate Kurt Stoll says he is seeing how important public healthcare is, and private healthcare cannot be permitted. He accused the province of being out to privatize healthcare and he wants a public system that is doing well. His party will also lift Bill 124, and hire 30,000 healthcare workers. He also wants to attack the surgical backlog and train more healthcare workers.
Green Party of Ontario Candidate Anna Dolan says healthcare is one of the major platform issues of her party. She will also push to repeal Bill 124 which limits wage increases. She also wants to focus on mental health, making sure it is paid for by OHIP and available to all people within a limited amount of time to reduce wait times. Dolan also pledges to work with healthcare practitioners to make sure they work reasonable hours.
Kade MacWilliams, Ontario Party Candidate says politicians knew there were problems with the system long before the pandemic. He wants to increase the number of hospital beds per capita, based on the averages of other countries. He wants to expand the role of nurse practitioners, allowing them to do more within their job and take the burden off of doctors. He says his party wants to open up more medical school spots in Ontario, making sure they can go to school in Ontario at an affordable price. He also believes the healthcare system is in need of a total audit to make sure there is no mismanagement of funds in the system.
Thomas O’Connor, Candidate for the New Blue Party of Ontario and Murray Reid, Candidate for the Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party, were unavailable for comment.