The Ontario government will spend $21 million to expand hospital capacity in Brampton, Premier Doug Ford said on Sunday.
Ford told reporters that the money will be spent on the William Osler Health System. He said $18 million will go toward the creation of a new emergency department at the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness in Brampton and $3 million will go toward expanding cancer care at Brampton Civic Hospital.
The funding means more than 250 new hospital beds in Brampton, Ford said. According to Ford, previous governments did not provide the health care services that Brampton needs.
“There’s talkers and doers. We’re doers. We get the job done,” Ford said. “It’s a great investment.”
Ford said the government said it announced $18 million in its budget last year to expand operations at the Peel Memorial Centre. The money announced on Sunday is in addition to that amount, he added.
Capacity needed due to population, health system says
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the funding will allow the Peel Memorial Centre to be a fully functioning hospital.
“This is a significant increase in the number of beds. This is really big news for the city of Brampton and the surrounding area,” Elliott said.
“We know that this is something that is needed by the people of Brampton and we’re announcing it now, but it’s something that we’ve been working on for quite a long time.”
Geoffrey Ritchie, chair of the board of the William Olser Health System, said the money is welcome because Brampton is a fast growing city and hospital redevelopment is needed. Brampton has a population of more than 650,000.
“As someone who was born and raised in Brampton … I have seen firsthand the need to increase our health care services and infrastructure as our community continues to grow,” Ritchie said.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the money will be helpful but said the city is waiting for a new hospital to be built. The province promised a new hospital in its 2021 budget, he said.
“These temporary announcements to help with capacity until the hospital is built are essentially stop-gap measures. What we’re more focused on is making sure the construction of the new hospital happens as soon as possible,” he said.
“We want to see shovels in the ground yesterday. It’s encouraging news, but it can’t happen soon enough.”
Brown said Brampton has one hospital, Brampton Civic Hospital, while the Peel Memorial Centre has an urgent care clinic that is open 13 hours a day. It is not a second hospital, he said.
Brampton needs about 750 more hospital beds to reach the provincial average because the population growth has been “extraordinary,” he said.
NDP says promise is ‘a plan to get a plan’
NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh, however, said in a statement on Sunday that the election promise “falls hundreds of beds short.” She added that if Ford was serious about improving Brampton health care, he would have done it by now.
“Brampton families all know the frustrating experience of waiting hours at the crowded Brampton Civic ER, while pain and worry make the hours feel like days,” Singh said.
“It’s devastating that Doug Ford has delayed investing in Brampton families who hoped they would get cancer treatment close to home and that the ER for Peel Memorial will not be in the budget — only a plan to get a plan for future years.”
Singh promised that the NDP would turn the Peel Memorial Centre into a full hospital with an emergency room and will build a new standalone hospital. She said the NDP will continue to fight for full funding for a dedicated cancer care centre in Brampton.
William Osler Health System provides care to 1.3 million people in Brampton, Etobicoke and surrounding communities. The health system has five sites: Peel Memorial Centre, Brampton Civic Hospital, Etobicoke General Hospital, a withdrawal management centre and a reactivation care unit.
The next provincial election campaign is set to begin officially on May 4 and election day is set for June 2.