Canada Randall Denley: State of Ontario's health care makes it hard to feel optimistic about the future
A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada
A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Adult Quebecers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be forced to pay a "significant" financial penalty, Premier François Legault said Tuesday, one day after the sudden resignation of the province's public health director. The penalty would be the first of its kind in Canada and would apply to unvaccinated residents who don't have a medical exemption, Legault told reporters in Montreal. The "health contribution" is necessary, he said, because about 10 per cent of adult Quebecers aren't vaccinated, but they represent about half of all patients in intensive care.
Great news! Ontario is going to slowly eliminate its latest COVID lockdown. Freedom is upon us. Why, by the end of January, restaurants will be open again at 50 per cent capacity. Gyms too, so you can work off those dining-out calories. Also, water parks will reopen, although attendance could be sparse.
If all goes well, life might be back to what Ontarians now consider normalish by the middle of March, except for the masks, the vaccination passports and the worry about what will come next.
Kelly McParland: It's not about Covid. It's about health care, and Erin O'Toole should maybe take advantage
The federal Conservative party needs an issue it can use to differentiate itself from the Liberals, appeal to Canadians and confirm itself as a serious alternative government with sound ideas and attractive policies. Hmmmm, let’s see. Whatever could it turn to? What’s going on out there in winterland that might hold a strong appeal to a broad mass of voters? (Scratches head. Thinks real hard …) OK, here’s a hint: HEALTH CARE! (Was that subtle enough?) A memo must have circulated within the Ottawa pundit club, as suddenly there’s a rash of articles noticing that things aren’t as they should be in the venerated Canadian health-care system, which, until recently, we insistently a
As Premier Doug Ford said Thursday, “We’re not out of the woods yet.” No kidding. Ontario is still in a desperate state. It’s like we’ve been in a 22-month siege. We’re mentally and physically exhausted. We don’t know when the next attack will come. We do know that our defences are weak and there is no quick plan to strengthen them.
The real question is not what happens over the new few weeks, but what happens after that. Not to spoil the “glimmer of hope“ party, but years of inadequate and ineffective health-care spending have left Ontario with a system that can’t manage normal times, much less the strains caused by a pandemic.
It seems ridiculous that a few thousand people in hospital can threaten the “collapse” of health care in a province of 14.7 million people, but that’s what happens when you have the lowest per capita spending of any province in the country. The former Liberal government liked to describe Ontario’s health care as “lean.” Emaciated would be closer to the mark.
Why Ontario university, college athletes aren't 'elite' is a question province won't answer
As CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed writes, the seemingly arbitrary decision to not classify Ontario's university and college student-athletes as 'elite' is frustratingly insulting to the thousands of men and women affected.In the latest protocols set out by the Ontario government, we have lost access to in-person dining, gatherings of more than five people, and gyms are closed. Walking outside is an activity that is free but only great if the windchill remains above –15 C. I'm not Albertan so that's the maximum for me.
Ontario has the fewest hospital beds per capita of any province. Perhaps that seemed like a smart economy to the last government, but it has meant billions of dollars in costs imposed on government, people and businesses because we can’t handle the pandemic. It is hurting people’s overall health, too. While COVID gets all the attention, the already-long surgery backlog increases daily.
Ontario also has the lowest nurse per capita ratio in the country. The province would need to hire an additional 22,000 nurses just to reach the national average.
Testing and contact tracing are supposed to be core tools in fighting infectious disease and measuring its spread, but Ontario’s system is so overwhelmed that PCR testing has been restricted to symptomatic people most at risk. Even with that narrowed scope, the testing system is only operating at 55 per cent of capacity and fails to meet its own timeliness standards one-third of the time.
More Quebec and Ontario students return to class, Ontario officials express optimism
More students in Quebec and Ontario headed back to class today after the scheduled return to in-person learning was delayed Monday by a winter storm. While some Ontario students had returned to the classroom on Monday, the plan was set back for many parts of the province when heavy snow halted school bus services.
None of this will be quick or easy to fix. It takes about a decade to approve and build a hospital. It takes up to 10 years to graduate a doctor and four years to graduate a nurse.
The PC government is doing what it can about the shortage of health-care workers. Ford said Thursday that Ontario has hired 6,700 health-care workers since March 2020, and another 6,000 will be available this March. That group includes nursing students and other health-care people in training. Unfortunately, nurses are also quitting in large numbers because of burnout and dissatisfaction over pay.
That’s the state of health care in Ontario as we struggle through the fourth wave of the pandemic. It’s difficult to feel optimistic about the future. Yes, vaccines have reduced sickness and death, but their effects wane quickly over time. Who’d have thought we’d need three shots in less than a year? The boosters Ontarians are getting now are not even designed for Omicron. The idea of vaccinating COVID-19 into submission seems a bit optimistic at the moment.
If Ontarians are to have realistic hope for the rest of this year and beyond, the health-care system rebuild needs to be accelerated. We can’t keep locking down for months at a time. It’s destroying our physical, mental and economic health.
Quebec unprepared for 1st wave of COVID-19 pandemic, leading to long-term care deaths
MONTREAL — Quebec health officials were ill-prepared to weather the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no coherent emergency plan and a health system that left vulnerable seniors in the lurch, the province's health and welfare commissioner said Wednesday. Joanne Castonguay's final report into the care and service offered to seniors in the pandemic's early months was released Wednesday, highlighting a need to overhaul the provincial Health Department.
Ontario can’t fix health care alone. It’s time for the federal government to focus its entire attention on upgrading the Canadian health care system. While Ontario lags the rest of the country, Canada itself fares poorly when compared to other major countries, across a range of metrics.
It would mean expediting funding, approval and construction of hospitals, expanding health-care training and aggressively recruiting internationally trained doctors and nurses.
The premiers have asked the federal government to cover 35 per cent of the total cost of health care, up from 22 per cent now. Ford reiterated the request Thursday. It would cost about $28 billion a year. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has earmarked $100 billion for economic stimulation the Parliamentary Budget Officer has just said is unnecessary.
Surely the best economic stimulation plan would be a functioning health-care system.
Randall Denley is an Ottawa political commentator, author and former Ontario PC candidate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ford says Ontario close to child-care deal; province is last to strike an agreement .
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is "very, very close" to a child-care deal with the federal government. His comments to a radio station in Kenora today come after a deal announced Monday with Nunavut leaves Ontario as the only jurisdiction without a deal with Ottawa for $10-a-day child care. Ford told Q104 Kenora that he is confident Ontario will strike a deal that will be beneficial for everyone. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Monday that the province is pushing for more than the $10.2 billion on offer from Ottawa to ensure that fees can be reduced to $10 a day since Ontario families pay some of the highest prices in the country for care.