Conservatives target LHINs to create more nursing jobs
The Progressive Conservatives would reduce emergency room wait times by cutting middle management jobs and hiring more frontline workers, said Paula Peroni, the party's candidate for Sudbury.
“We're not cutting frontline workers in that 100,000 jobs,” she said, referring to Conservative leader Tim Hudak's announcement that he would cut 100,000 public sector jobs if he became the province's next premier.
To hire more nurses and other frontline workers, Peroni said, the Conservatives would start by dismantling the province's 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).
“It buffers the public from the government,” she said about the North East LHIN. “We need to eliminate that and make the government more responsive to the communities.”
While the NDP would not end the LHINs, France Gélinas, the party's health critic and incumbent in Nickel Belt, said her party would work to make the LHINs more accountable and transparent.
The province's Social Policy Committee – made up of four Liberal members, three Conservatives and two NDP members – started a review of the LHINs in late 2013 after a three-year delay.
While the review has not yet ended, Gélinas, who sits on the committee, said some of the LHINs have failed in their mandate to provide responsive local planning for health-care services.
“Health care should be responsive to the needs of the people it serves,” Gélinas said.
As for emergency room wait times, the NDP's platform promises to cut them in half.
Gélinas said long wait times are symptomatic of failures in other parts of the health-care system. The emergency room, she said, is a last resort when all other levels of care have failed.
The NDP has said it would improve access to home care, and create 50 new family health clinics with extended hours to address the holes in the health-care system.
The Liberals have also promised to cut emergency room wait times in half.
To achieve that goal, Sudbury candidate Andrew Olivier said the party plans to invest $11.6 billion over 10 years to improve the health-care system.
That investment, he said, will go to improve home care and other outpatient services.
“The big thing that will help is getting people out of hospital quicker,” he said.
Before the election was called, the Liberals promised to increase personal support worker salaries by $4 an hour over three years.
Ontario personal support workers currently start at $12.50 an hour. Olivier said the wage hike should encourage more people to consider the profession and improve the quality of life for those already in the field.
Ontario's 34,000 personal support workers provide care and support to 300,000 seniors and other people with complex care needs in their homes and communities.