New FAO report reveals underspending across the board – including $1.8 billion in health care
QUEEN’S PARK — The Official Opposition NDP says it is unbelievably callous and dangerous for the Doug Ford Conservatives to have shortchanged health care by $1.8 billion as the province grapples with a rash of ER closures amid an ongoing staffing crisis.
In a report released today, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario revealed that the Ford government withheld $1.8 billion earmarked for health care as part of $7.2 billion in mid-year cuts for 2021-22.
“It’s dangerous and callous to be making in-year cuts to health care when our hospitals are barely hanging on by a thread,” said NDP Health critic France Gélinas. “People are waiting in pain for procedures and surgeries backlogged by the pandemic. People are waiting for hours on end in ER waiting rooms. Terrifyingly, some people arrive at an ER or urgent care centre only to find the doors locked and the lights off.”
In recent weeks, the rash of temporary ER shutdowns or patient caps in Ontario has touched hospitals including Clinton Public Hospital, Listowel Memorial Hospital, Seaforth Community Hospital, St. Marys Memorial Hospital, Wingham & District Hospital, Perth Hospital, the Hotel Dieu Hospital Urgent Care Centre in Kingston and more.
NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife said the $7.2 billion in underspending is cuts by stealth.
“In health care and education, people are begging for investment to attract, train, hire and retain the staff we desperately need,” said Fife. “It’s time to invest to rebuild and improve the public services we all count on.
“Instead, the Ford Conservative government has found a way to keep the cuts coming all year long.”