Party Platforms – New Democrats pledge to address health care wait times

The New Democrats health platform is about addressing wait times.

They say they will cut ER wait times in half and make health care a priority.

This is their four-year plan to reduce ER waits:

• They plan to open 50 24-hour family health clinics across the province. This is in addition to existing urgent care centers and walk-in clinics. About 25 per cent of Ontarians presently access a walk-in clinic at least once each year.

• They plan to add 1,400 new long-term care beds to the present stock of 77,000.

• They also plan to recruit 250 nurses practitioners to assist in the hospital ERs. This has been costed at $30 million per year. In their platform they note that St. Michael’s has been successful in reducing ER waits using three nurse practitioners in a fast track process.

The New Democrats have brought back their earlier pledge to establish a “five-day” guarantee for home care service. They intend to do this by adding $30 million a year to the home care budget. At present about half of the provinces Community Care Access Centres are reaching that target as an average, the other half are still struggling to meet demand. The annual budget for Community Care Access Centres to deliver home care is $2.2 billion.

Other initiatives

Beginning in 2015-16 they would set aside $5 million a year to forgive student debt for doctors who agree to practice in underserviced areas.

They would also set aside $230 million in 2015-16 towards a family caregiver health credit and increase it by $10 million per year. Primary caregivers who help with basic functions of daily living would receive a tax credit of $1,275 per year.

Andrea Horwath has also pledged to extend the Ontario Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to cover health care. The Wynne government had recently announced it was expanding the ombudsman’s reach to the MUSH sector – Municipalities, Universities, School Boards and Hospitals – but had excluded health care. Instead the Liberal plan would create a separate patient ombudsman.

For more information regarding party positions on health care, click here.

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