In the 2017 Ontario budget, the province announced a $7 billion commitment to improving health care. With it comes universal drug coverage for youth 24 years and under, and a 3.3% increase in Ontario’s total health care budget.

Hospitals across the province will see a 3.1% increase in their operational budgets to relieve overcrowding. Brampton is no stranger to this issue. The city’s bed-to-patient ratio is less than 1 per 1,000 people, well below the province’s standard of 2.3.

William Osler Health System will receive $10.2 million from the budget to improve services at all local hospitals, including Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH).

To help manage increasing volumes in Osler Emergency Departments (ED), efforts to ensure patients have access to timely, safe and quality care are ongoing with the addition of more ED physician hours and ED staff, specialized areas within the ED to stream patients to the right area for care, and increased hours available for Diagnostic Imaging tests,” a Wiliam Osler rep told Bramptonist.

Osler maintains the focus of the funding will be to continue to deliver care, improve access to services at the hospitals, and strive to maintain continuity of services that are of particular importance within the communities surrounding their hospitals.

Members of the community are understandably exasperated with the issue and have been more vocal as of late — an online petition has amassed hundreds of signatures calling for overnight beds at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health (PMH).

However, it is likely that the funding will provide only a superficial solution to Brampton’s chronic overcrowding.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), told the Brampton Guardian that in order to maintain services as the population grows, a 5% increase in funding would be needed for hospitals, which means the 3% increase provided by the budget will fall short.

“Ontario has the fewest hospital beds per person of anywhere in the country. If you compare us to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, we’re third from the bottom. The money promised in the budget will not solve the problems of overcrowding faced by hospitals,” said Mehra.