Ontario health-care needs significant government funding: OMA

Doctors across the province are shining a spotlight on some of the most significant needs facing the health-care sector ahead of the provincial election.

With voters set to head to the polls in one month, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) says there are some key priorities that must be addressed by whichever party forms government next month.

"We are experiencing incredible pressure around wait times," says Dr. Rose Zacharias, OMA president-elect. "We know wait times are the number one concern of people across the province post-pandemic."

Zacharias says the health-care sector continues to be plagued by delayed procedures, with about 21 million delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she says morale is at extremely low levels, with burnout a real issue many doctors face.

Physician burnout is a problem that is top of mind for management at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

"We've got people working double shifts. It means we've got people cancelling vacations to help out our team members. It means every shift potentially is working short," says Dr. Nancy Merrow, the chief of staff and vice president of medical affairs.

With approximately 1,000 surgeries backlogged, Merrow says the hospital is working to improve staff morale as best as possible, arguing the problem can't be fixed with burned-out staff.

"The well-being and safety and health of all of those doctors and nurses and allied health and staff is as important as the health and well-being as the patients they are taking care of," says Merrow.

"That's the paradigm that we need to shift this health-care system into for the long run."

The OMA is calling on the federal government to increase its investment in health-care systems across the country, arguing more funding is needed to hire and train new doctors.

"In years past, it's been a 22 per cent portion, and we are calling on Canada to increase that to 35 per cent, and with that, it would inject billions of dollars into the health-care system to indeed follow our prescription for Ontario," concludes Zacharias.