Ontario hospitals warn of patient surges, long wait times

TORONTO — Several Ontario hospitals are warning of higher−than−usual numbers of patients and longer wait times, particularly in their emergency departments.

Niagara Health, Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital and Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay are all advising patients to consider alternatives to the ER if their condition isn’t urgent.

The Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa said earlier this week it was at 115 per cent occupancy, with 35 patients admitted in the emergency department waiting for a bed and another 70 people waiting to be seen.

The Canadian Medical Association says many ERs across the country are overflowing and it is urging provincial governments to step up efforts to address the crisis, with a particular focus on access to high−quality, team−based primary care.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles says the provincial government should do more to shore up health−care staffing, such as capping nursing agency pay rates to end the poaching of staff hospital nurses.

A spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones says Ontario is leading the country with some of the shortest wait times in Canada and is spending billions of dollars to further reduce them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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