Patients' advocacy group says Ontario hospitals closing beds, clinics

TORONTO – A patients’ advocacy group says Ontario hospitals are being forced to close beds, shut clinics and cut services that cannot be replaced by community-based agencies.

The Ontario Health Coalition says a zero per cent budget increase for hospitals has forced service cuts across the province, with some out-patient clinics for everything from physiotherapy to pain management being closed.

Coalition director Natalie Mehra says the government is misleading people when it claims the services being cut by hospitals are being replaced with home care and more community-based care.

Mehra calls it smoke and mirrors for the government to claim it’s all trade-offs and there are no real cuts happening.

The coalition says a recent increase in funding for home care is nowhere near enough to deal with lengthy waiting lists, and notes per-client funding is actually decreasing because “there are so many more patients being dumped into home care.”

Mehra says some patients are forced to pay $50 to $70 for every physiotherapy treatment when hospital clinics close and they are sent to private facilities.

She says Ontario’s health-care funding is the lowest per person in Canada.