Londoners rally to end overcrowding in Ontario hospitals

Londoners joined the London Health Coalition Saturday for the Crisis in Health Care Rally. Christian D'Avino / 980 CFPL

Members of the London Health Coalition gathered at Victoria Hospital to rally for what they’re calling a crisis in Ontario’s healthcare system.

The Crisis in Health Care Rally, which took place Saturday, is part of an effort that aims to make overcrowding in Ontario hospitals a key issue in the upcoming provincial election.

“We’ve never done studies to see what the capacity of the Victoria hospital is, but this hospital isn’t just taking in Londoners, it takes in patients from all around southwestern Ontario,” said Jeff Hanks, co-chair of the London Health Coalition.

“So instead of doing actual studies to see where the capacity is at, we’ve let it go, so now we’ve come to where we are today,” he said.

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Hanks adds that a large chunk of the problem is due to ongoing funding cuts to Ontario healthcare.

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“We’re now in a crisis because of it,” he said, “because this hospital is at 165 per cent capacity at times, when only 85 per cent is safe. That’s grounds for an entirely new hospital.”

While the rally itself was non-partisan, London Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong, along with London MPP Peggy Sattler and London North-Centre NDP candidate Terence Kernaghan, all were in attendance to show their support.

“Healthcare is fundamental in Ontario, and if we don’t have the services available to those who need it, then it’s a serious problem,” said MPP Teresa Armstrong.

“I’ve been elected since 2011, and have been speaking about wait times and treatment, and finally, we (NDP) have a platform that will aid in ending the crisis,” she said.

Back in March, Armstrong brought the issue of overcrowding to Queen’s Park. She told the story of Londoner Larry Dann, who spent eight days waiting in a Miami intensive care unit with a serious infection while there were no available beds in his hometown.

“And just yesterday, a woman emailed our office to tell us that her husband has been waiting for five days in the hallways for mental health treatment, along with nine others,” Armstrong said.

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“This has become a focal point for this upcoming election, because we need to make sure that when you need healthcare, it’s there for you to access at a reasonable time.”

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