Stop cutting funding to Ontario's healthcare

As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our universal health care system. It provides life-saving services at a very low cost compared to other developed countries. But what we don’t realize is that our healthcare system is being severely jeopardized by budget cuts, and it will only get worse. 
 
Earlier this year, the Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced it will need to cut a staggering $2.8-billion in savings over the next two years. This follows an alarming trend of budget cuts that began in 2015 with an overall goal to remove $60-billion from health funding over the next decade. 
 
Budget cuts to our healthcare system limit the services, innovation and employment that are provided by our hospitals. Without the financial support of the federal government, the standard of care for patients has already started to decline.
 
This year, the Ontario Hospital Association found wait times for patients in emergency departments had reached the highest monthly level since 2008. Many of the largest hospitals in Ontario also reported occupancy levels exceeding 100 per cent. Having minimal financial aid from the government has taken its toll and hospitals will only be stretched thinner over the next few years. 
 
Our system also recently failed Catherine Terry, an elderly woman in Hamilton who passed away in late August when emergency services were unable to reach her in time. She had a heart attack during a “Code zero” event, where there is only one — sometimes even zero — ambulances available. This sort of unimaginable occurrence is becoming more and more prevalent, all due to scarce hospital funds and lack of investment in health services. 
 
With a legal agreement on health funding unilaterally decided by the Ministry of Health — with absolutely no input from actual physicians whatsoever — the outcomes of these cuts are appalling. The healthcare system must have a flexible budget in order to keep up with the changing needs of patients. 
 
It’s time to look for a better solution and stop cutting funding to our healthcare. You don’t have to be a physician or politician to make a difference. It starts with just being aware. The more people who know what’s going on with the provincial healthcare system, the more people who will speak up. 
 
So keep healthcare on your mind and in your conversations. Show the policy makers that our healthcare is not and should never be expendable. 
 
No one has the right to put a price on health, not even the Canadian government.  
 
Stephanie is The Journal’s Editorial Illustrator. She’s a second-year QUARMS student.

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