Lise Vaugeios – Candidate’s Ledger
THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – Ever since the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital opened, people in our region have been affected by ever-lengthening episodes of hospital gridlock. I witnessed this directly a couple of weeks ago: a friend with a serious illness spent three days and nights in the hallway of Emergency because there was nowhere else to put her.
How do we expect people to recover when they are surrounded by the noise and constant activity in Emergency, and how do we expect medical staff to function well and look after their own mental and physical health when they are constantly working under stress? The situation is untenable and puts everyone – patients and staff – at risk.
The crisis we are seeing today has been years in the making. The last time the Conservatives were in power they closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,000 nurses — healthcare in Ontario has never recovered. Over the last fifteen years, the Liberals have continued where the Conservatives left off: freezing hospital budgets and firing frontline staff. And now the Conservative party is offering Ontarians $6.1 billion in further cuts while the Liberals repeat promises they’ve made before but not fulfilled.
Andrea Horwath has promised that an NDP government will fund hospitals, at a minimum, at the rate of inflation and population growth, taking into account the unique needs of each community. She has also vowed to implement a pharmacare program that covers everyone, regardless of age or income. We have known for years that purchasing pharmaceuticals in bulk lowers the cost of drugs and reduces the number of people using emergency wards. It is time to act on this knowledge and reduce the cost of healthcare.
The NDP is also committed to addressing the crisis of health care in First Nations communities. Nursing stations on reserves are understaffed and under-resourced forcing people to take long journeys to Thunder Bay to receive critical, though basic, services. Nishnawbe-Aski Nation and other First Nations governments have been working hard to identify solutions to the healthcare needs of their communities and the NDP is committed to making sure that these solutions are implemented.
Our province has the resources for all of us to live better, healthier lives. Incredible medical advances are occurring every day, and yet people are waiting for medical care in hospital hallways. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have to stand up and be counted if we want to take back our health care system. When Tommy Douglas worked for universal health care, Liberals and Conservatives said that was impossible and would bankrupt the nation and yet, it was not only possible, it’s now something that all of us can be proud of.
We can do so much better. It’s time to take back our public health care services, fund them properly, and make sure that they are available to everyone. The NDP started the movement for universal health care, and it will be the NDP that makes sure that Ontarians have true universal pharmacare. Every Ontario family deserves to be confident that if they need health care, services will be there for them, when and where they need it.
I am passionate about the health and well-being of the people in our region and will be our voice in Queen’s Park to fight for proper funding for all of our health care needs in Thunder Bay-Superior North.
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