Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

Docs show Liberal, Conservative health care cuts hurt families in Kitchener, Waterloo

Published on June 9, 2017

Grand River Hospital operating above safe capacity, as high as 117 per cent, for 24 months straight

KITCHENER – Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife released shocking internal government statistics that show Grand River Hospital has been forced to operate multiple units well above safe capacity for 24 consecutive months.

“Years and years of Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage. Frontline health care staff are being asked to do more with less, and patients are paying the price with longer waits and hallway medicine,” said Horwath, who was in Kitchener with health care workers and patients on Friday.

Documents obtained by the NDP under freedom of information laws show that between January 2015 and December 2016, Grand River Hospital’s acute care, surgery, stroke and oncology beds were operating at above safe capacity every day, reaching at times as high as 117 per cent. Experts and the province deem 85 per cent capacity to be the maximum safe capacity limit.

Occupancy details:

  • The hospital’s 66 beds in the medicine units operated above 100% occupancy in 22 of 24 months, with occupancy reaching as high as 116.9%
  • The hospital’s 56 surgery beds operated above 100% more than half the time with occupancy reaching as high as 111.4%
  • The hospital’s 22 beds in the stroke unit operated above 100% occupancy in 17 of 24 months, with occupancy reaching as high as 108%
  • The hospital’s 20 oncology beds operated above 100% occupancy in 12 of 24 months, with occupancy reaching as high as 110%

People in the Waterloo region also wait longer for hip or knee replacements than Ontarians in any other part of the province, according to the Waterloo Wellington LHIN, which noted in a recent report that one of the causes of high wait times in the region is “demand exceeding funded volumes.”

Fife and Horwath were joined by Jim Walsh this morning who described his experience waiting for a hip replacement at GRH.

“It’s been frustrating. I’m 69, my hip hurts, I’ve been diagnosed as needing a replacement and even now that I finally have my surgery date, I’m still waiting,” said Walsh. “When I finally do get my surgery, I will have waited over a year, and it would have been another six months if I hadn’t pushed so hard for an earlier date. People shouldn’t have to beg to get the health care they need, in this community or anywhere in Ontario.”

Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard.

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage, with years of frozen budgets and underfunding, shortchanging hospitals by at least $300 million this year alone.

“The Wynne Liberals and the Conservative party are exactly the same when it comes to health care – they cut and privatize at every opportunity,” said MPP Fife. “The people of Waterloo region deserve better – every family does.”

The NDP has committed to providing strong, predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation and population growth. Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers and, just recently, she introduced her party’s plan to create the first universal Pharmacare program, because no one should have to empty their wallet just to get the medicine they need. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can also play a role in relieving stress on hospitals.