The hydro bill at the Sault Area Hospital has jumped nearly $1 million at the same time as the Wynne government has frozen hospital funding – and that pressure is leading to front-line health care cuts.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP candidate in the upcoming by-election City Councillor Joe Krmpotich were in Sault Ste. Marie Monday to address the concern, which was revealed in documents the NDP obtained via access to information laws.
“The pressure from skyrocketing hydro bills and frozen hospital budgets has already led to frontline workers being laid off, and longer wait times for diagnostic tests like MRIs or CT scans,” said Horwath. “It’s clear that hydro costs are hurting families in more ways than one – it’s hurting people every month when the bill comes, but it’s also hurting the services we count on, like hospitals, schools and city services like community centres.”
Over four years, from 2011 to 2015, the hospital’s total annual electricity consumption has stayed the same, yet the total billed amount for hydro has risen to $2.7 million from $1.8 million – an increase of 45 per cent.
“The hospital staff and administrators are doing the best they can, but what they are being forced to deal with is just mind boggling,” said Krmpotich. “How can the hospital be expected to provide the best quality of care when Premier Wynne is squeezing them like this?”
Horwath and Krmpotich were joined by frontline health care workers from the hospital who say they are very concerned about patient care being put in jeopardy.
“We have already lost nursing hours in the imaging diagnostics unit,” said Glenda Hubbley, a Registered Nurse at the hospital and president of the Ontario Nurses Association local in Sault Ste. Marie. “We just want to provide the best care possible, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that.”
Horwath recently released an NDP plan to cut hydro bills by as much as 30 per cent, which includes returning Hydro One to public hands – a move that will provide Ontario with an additional $7 billion that can be invested in Ontario services like hospitals. The NDP plan is in stark contrast to the Wynne government’s band-aid fix – a borrowing scheme that will force people to pay $40 billion more in interest to bankers.
Horwath has also said an NDP government would stop the Wynne hospital cuts – she’s committed to meeting the unique needs and pressures that northern hospitals like the facility in the Sault face.
“By focusing on herself and her party, Premier Wynne has driven the Sault to its breaking point,” said Horwath. “That’s why it’s time for a strong voice at Queen’s Park, fighting for the Sault. That’s why Joe Krmpotich is our choice in the by-election.”