Dec 06, 2012

By Jane Brown

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Ontario’s Health Minister says a new report from the Ontario Health Coalition contains false information.  Deb Matthews is denying claims by the patients’ advocacy group that hospitals in this province are being forced to close beds, shut clinics and cut services.

She says the government has been increasing funding to the home care and community care sectors to get so-called Alternative Level of Care patients who don’t need to be in expensive hospital beds back home. “We’re seeing out ALC rates in hospitals, so that’s how many people are in hospital who don’t need to be in hospital, in many parts of the province, those ALC rates rates are coming down rapidly because we’re investing more in home care.”

Earlier this week, Matthews announced 272-million dollars in new funding for the province’s Aging At Home and Community Care.  Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition says lack of proper funding for home care combined with more aggressive offloading of patients from hospitals is creating a desperate situation.  “Home care clients are actually increasingly being wait listed or they’re being referred to community agencies that provide something less than home care services because there’s not enough money in home care, or they’re just being denied services.  So home care is being more strictly rationed.”  Mehra also says Ontario’s healthcare funding is already almost the lowest per person in the country. And this she says, is being curtailed by 3 billion dollars, resulting in unprecedented hospital and home care service cuts across the province.

Susan Eng of CARP, a new vision of aging, has also voiced concerns about Health Minister Deb Matthews’ home care announcement.  Eng say, ” the province needs to detail the increase in the available number of home care hours a family can receive.  Otherwise, 272-million dollars is just a number out of the air. “

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