Seniors Issues and Concerns

OSSCO provides the following information and links on issues interest to Seniors and OSSCO members. This includes information from third parties. The content of this information is provided solely as a convenience and not as an endorsement. OSSCO is not responsible for the content of linked third party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third party Web sites. Further information regarding any of these issues may be obtained by following the supplied links.

Ontario Health Coalition Media Release: Promise to Extend Funding a Positive Step

February 2, 2018 (Toronto) – “Although the Minister’s announcement today promising to extend funding for 1,235 ‘temporary’ hospital beds for one year is a positive step it is only a temporary band aid that will not solve the hospital overcrowding crisis,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition to news media today,  “More is needed.”

Despite the Minister’s welcome announcement of 1,200 temporary hospital beds last fall, Ontario’s hospital overcrowding crisis continues.  “Flu season is not the cause of the overcrowding crisis in hospitals,” Mehra said.  “This crisis has been building for over a decade as a result of the most extreme cuts to hospital funding in Canada, resulting in severe bed shortages and hospitals stacked with sick people in halls and emergency rooms.” 

Cuts have made it impossible for hospitals to plan and expand to meet the needs of our growing population.  This announcement by Minister Hoskins must be put into the context of the crisis as it exists today – right now. Ontario communities have lived with the deepest cuts to hospital services compared to any other province in Canada.  And, more alarmingly, the cuts are deeper than in any other country in the developed world.

Please note this fact:  Ontario has the fewest hospital beds per person, the least amount of nursing care per patient, and the most severe hospital overcrowding in all of Canada.

Mehra warned that the government’s written fiscal plan is to increase funding for one year and then cut health care funding the year after the election. Leading into June’s provincial election, the Coalition is calling for all Ontario political parties to commit to developing a capacity plan to reopen hospital beds, operating rooms and services based on the population’s need for care.

“No more opportunistic pre-election promises.”

“You can’t cut funding for a decade and then a year before an election start to put some – but not enough – money back in.  People are suffering and we need a real plan to restore public hospital capacity to reasonable, rational, evidence-based levels to get us out of the ongoing crisis.  Anything less is irresponsible and inhumane,” concluded Mehra.


For more information contact: 416-441-2502

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8


Ontario Energy Board’s Proposal to Reduce Consumer Group

Counsel to the Vulnerable Energy Consumers Coalition (VECC)

Correspondence from counsel to the VECC to express VECC’s serious concerns regarding recent changes proposed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) which would result in less consumer group participation and scrutiny of residential hydro rate applications. Read the correspondence from counsel to the VECC.


Enabling Aging in Place

By The National Research Council

National Research Council shared workshop report on Aging in place. This report summarizes the discussions that took place at a national workshop on Aging in Place hosted by the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa on November 30, 2016. The objectives of the workshop were to identify the key challenges, or combinations of challenges, that provide the most promising opportunities to help seniors stay living in their homes for as long as possible. For NRC, this was a first step in being able to identify areas where it could then contribute to solutions, either directly or by connecting other players who can play a direct role.

Click here for the report on Enabling Aging in Place


CURC - Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

By CURC Toronto&York Area Council

In January, Sue Craig, a member of their Executive Board and Barry Stevens President of Toronto and York Region Area Council of CURC represented at the Standing Committee on Finance and Budget Affairs during its pre-budget consultations.
Their written submission and presentation focused on the importance of renewing and enhancing public services, reversing privatization, fairer taxation, and fairer cost-sharing among municipal, provincial and federal government.
Their proposals addressed the urgency of climate change; reversing the trend towards privatization in healthcare and actually extending the range of services covered by OHIP; increased support for affordable housing and transit; and restoring the generation and distribution of electricity to public hands.
They also called for an end to government downloading and a fairer allocation of costs for services among the three levels of governments, as well as greater fairness in the tax system based on ability to pay.

View written submission and their speaking notes


Census Results Call for Reviewing Old Age Security Eligibility
By Ghazy Mujahid

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Ontario Society of Senior Citizens' Organizations, it members or partners.

The Liberals reversed the Conservatives’ decision announced in 2012 to gradually boost the eligibility age for Old Age Security (OAS) payments from 65 to 67 years between 2023 and 2029. This was in keeping with an election pledge. When questioned about the reversal, announced in the Liberals’
first budget in March 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau had replied to the House of Commons Finance Committee that “The approach taken to changing the Old Age Security by the previous government, in my estimation, was arbitrary.”

Read the full article.


Emergency Department Crises and Hospital Bed
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

As you may know, there are media stories across Ontario about emergency department overloads. Hospitals are reporting that the flu and/or other viruses have created a surge. Some are saying that the increase in volumes has been happening over months/years. In December hospitals were reporting occupancy levels well over 100 per cent in many areas -- far above internationally-accepted benchmarks for safe patient care.

Lakeridge Health has reported that all four of its hospitals are in surge. They have opened an emergency "command centre" to deal with the crisis.

The Durham Health Coalition asked us to help organize a press conference on this. The local hospital CEO has attributed the crisis to an upswing in patient volumes and the flu. We are going to point out the systemic issues (too few beds and not enough capacity to deal with yearly holiday/flu upsurge, dangerous levels of understaffing and low bed capacity, failure of the provincial government to take the situation seriously and provide adequate resources, years of underfunding).

View the attached backgrounder explaining the same issues for hospitals across the province.


Patients First Bill puts Bureaucracy first 
Excerpt from Patients Canada

The Government of Ontario recently passed Bill 41, also known as the Patients First Act on December 7th, 2016. 

Before the passing of Bill 41, a number of organizations and individuals presented their concerns before a legislative committee made up of the three Ontario political parties.
Please find below Patients Canada's presentation on the Patients First Act: 
View Patients Canada's presentation 
Also, please find below Ted Ball's presentation on the Patients First Act. 
His presentation is in agreement with Patients Canada's stance that the Patients First Act does not put patients first. 
View Ted Ball's presentation 

List of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems.
Excerpt from Concerned Friends

Concerned Friends: A VOICE FOR QUALITY IN LONG TERM CARE report for the first time our list of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems. The health ministry announced this year that it will ramp up inspections of homes such as these. Also, why are residents in one long-term care home receiving less physiotherapy than before? Wasn’t the new funding formula of 2013 supposed to fix that?

Click here for more information


Ontario War On Addiction Needlessly Targets Seniors And Disabled
Excerpt from HuffPost by Marvin Ross Writer, publisher 

Ontario just announced that it is starting its war against addiction and deaths from opioid overdoses by targeting the elderly and disabled. Beginning in January 2017, Ontario will no longer cover the cost of higher doses of certain pain medications on its drug benefit formulary. The formulary covers the cost of drugs for senior citizens and the disabled. Those on higher doses will have to pay for these prescriptions themselves or have their doctors prescribe lower doses in sufficient quantity to make up for the single pill or long-acting patches they get now.

In an explanation to pharmacists, the government stated that part of the rationale is that they want to stop the diversion of legitimately prescribed medications which they call a "public health and safety issue in Canada." That assumes that a considerable amount of the drugs on the street are diverted from legitimate prescriptions, which is not the case.

For more details, please follow the link below.


Do we jump on or off the bandwagon? The Patients First Act, 2016
Source:Care Watch

Let’s think about the new Patients First Act before jumping on or off the bandwagon!

Introduction of Bill 210, the Patients First Act, 2016 offers a key opportunity for Ontarians to assess the health system changes that Minister Hoskins proposes.  These changes will have a significant, long-term impact on the range and quality of health services Ontarians receive through our publicly funded Medicare system. They will affect our experience as users, providers and taxpayers.
The draft legislation will amend approximately 20 pieces of legislation in order to implement the proposed reforms.  The Bill is complex and the way it amends these other Acts requires careful analysis of the intent as well as effects or probable outcomes.  

Care Watch has a longstanding commitment to advocate for better, more accessible home care for senior citizens.  It is through this lens that we will be watching and commenting on the proposals.

Click here for the report


Ontario Health Coalition Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs  
Priority Recommendation: Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts & Restore Funding to Average of Other Provinces as submitted by Ontario Health Coalition
Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director, Natalie Mehra presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at the Ontario Legislature on Monday, February 1st, 2016.

Hospital global funding increases have been set below the rate of inflation since at least 2008. Since 2012/13 global hospital budget funding levels have been frozen. In sum, this means that global hospital budgets have been cut in real dollar terms (inflation-adjusted dollars) for 8 years in a row. This is the longest period of hospital cuts in Ontario’s history and there is no end in sight. The evidence shows that the hospital funding formula and austerity measures that have cut global hospital budgets in real dollar terms for almost a decade, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in needed services. By key measures, Ontario now ranks at the bottom of comparable jurisdictions in key measures of hospital care levels.

As a result, hospitals large and small in every geographic region of Ontario are cutting needed services. Hospitals are now at dangerous levels of overcrowding; staffing levels have dropped precipitously; and patients are suffering as they are forced to wait longer and drive further to access care and are discharged before they are stable.
A sampling of recent cuts:

  • North Bay – 30 – 40 beds closing and 140 staff positions to be cut.
  • Brockville – 17 Registered Nurses cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • London – up to 500 surgeries including hip, knee, gall bladder and others cancelled until next fiscal year due to inadequate funding of surgery budgets.
  • Woodstock – hip, knee and other surgeries cancelled til next fiscal year.
  • Trenton – virtually all surgeries cut and closed down along with half the remaining acute care beds.
  • Minden – the hospital CEO is speculating openly about closing the Minden hospital.
  • Niagara – five entire hospitals to be closed and replaced with one.
  • Windsor - 160 nurses and staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Kitchener - Waterloo – 68 staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Midland – at risk: birthing, cafeteria, OR closure 2 days per week, ICU beds to be cut, along with beds and other services.

The Ontario Health Coalition is deeply concerned about the cuts to our province’s public hospitals and has focused our pre-budget submission on one key recommendation:

Recommendation: The hospital cuts must be stopped immediately. Hospital funding must be restored to the average of the other provinces in Canada and funding must go to restoring and improving service levels to meet population need.

Click here for more information

Click here to visit  Ontario Health Coalition website



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