Five things experts say could ease pressures on Ontario's health-care system

niagara health

Temporary emergency room closures and increased wait times have become increasingly common in Ontario as the province's health-care system grapples with staffing shortages.
    
Premier Doug Ford has acknowledged that more can be done to ease health-system pressures, but his throne speech this week fell short of offering solutions to the problem.
    
Experts and advocates are making suggestions as to what could help Ontario's overburdened health system.
    
They include scrapping the law known as Bill 124 -- which caps wage increases for public sector contracts at one per cent a year for three years as well as training and registering more health care workers.
    
They also call for the province to build publicly funded, stand-alone health centres that can perform less complex outpatient surgeries and procedures, improve work conditions for staff and implement a national system to track staffing levels at different health-care institutions to ensure that there is a balanced distribution of the workforce and prevent service disruptions.
    
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario says mental health support, mentorship and good leadership in conjunction with adequate compensation will in aid retention, as nurses contend with nearly three years of pandemic exhaustion combined with the rising cost of living.
    
The Ontario Medical Association says 22 million patient services were delayed over the course of the pandemic, 10 million of which were surgeries and cancer screening procedures.
    
It says that backlog is contributing to the strain being felt in emergency departments, which could be eased by separate health centres performing the outpatient procedures.