Hello, and welcome to the first edition of Vote of Confidence, your guide to learning the ins and outs of the biggest issues of the Ontario election.
Today, much as it’s been for the past two and a half years, it’s all about health care.
Health reporter Carly Weeks takes us through the questions that are top of mind for people working in the health care industry, and what kind of changes they’re hoping to see with the next government:
Health care is a top issue for many in Ontario and each party is promising various fixes to alleviate the system’s growing problems, which have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the lead-up to the vote, many health care leaders, hospitals and nursing associations are calling on the next government to commit to bold changes to improve the system and warn that the many crises unfolding in health care need more money and resources before they get even worse.
Common themes on the campaign trail
- Shortages of nurses, personal support workers and family doctors
- Building capacity in hospitals and long-term care facilities
- Tackling surgical backlogs that have become a problem for thousands during the pandemic
From the nurses’ perspective
Nursing associations say many of their members across the province are exhausted, burnt out and considering leaving the profession. In addition to growing workloads and unsustainable hours, many object to Bill 124, a Ford government measure that caps wage increases for nurses. The Liberals and the NDP have both called for the bill to be repealed. And while the previous PC government said earlier this year that qualifying front-line nurses would receive up to $5,000 in a lump-sum payment in recognition of their hard work during the pandemic, nursing executives say this one-time offer doesn’t fix the long hours or other problems that are plaguing many nurses.
What are the parties promising?
On May 12, the Ontario Medical Association released a report card judging how well each party’s promises actually measure up when it comes to tackling the problems facing the system. The report card looked at six priority areas: reducing waiting times and backlogs; expanding mental health and addiction services in communities; improving home and other community care; strengthening public health and pandemic preparedness; giving every patient a team of health care providers that are linked digitally; and addressing northern Ontario health challenges. The parties earned either one stethoscope in each category for modest promises or three for a strong commitment that aligns with the OMA’s identified priority areas. The most a party could earn is 18.
As of right now, the OMA gave the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals 10 stethoscopes each, while the NDP earned nine and the Greens seven.
What’s happening on the campaign trail?
The final debate of the campaign was Monday night, when leaders clashed over health and highways. Ontario’s opposition leaders took aim at Doug Ford’s handling of the pandemic and his proposed $10-billion Highway 413, while some of the tensest moments happened during exchanges about COVID-19 and climate change.
Today, Steven Del Duca held a postdebate rally in Toronto, Andrea Horwath was in Toronto making an announcement about fixing schools, and Peterborough for an announcement about mental health supports in schools, Doug Ford was endorsed by The International Union of Painters and Allied Trade and Mike Schreiner was in the downtown Toronto riding of University-Rosedale, making a youth and climate announcement with star candidate Dianne Saxe.
The Liberals and Greens have released fully costed platforms, and the NDP’s full platform has been available since the beginning of May. The Progressive Conservatives haven’t released a platform. The party’s 2022 budget wasn’t passed and the PCs pledge to bring those funding promises back to the table if re-elected. The Ontario Party has its platform commitments listed on its website.
The Globe’s platform guide breaks down each party’s promises on key issues such as health care, the economy, transportation, the environment, education and housing.
Fixing health care
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that the Canadian health care system requires major changes and possibly radical solutions. The Globe’s Fixing Health Care series presents 10 common problems faced by patients in Canada, along with 10 solutions that the authors argue can be achieved within our existing publicly funded health system.
Important coming dates
- May 23 – deadline to register to vote
- May 27 – deadline to apply to vote by mail
- June 2 – election day
Looking for more information on how and where to vote, as well as who is running in your riding? The Globe’s Ontario election page has all the answers.
Vote of Confidence is The Globe and Mail’s newsletter focused on the 2022 Ontario election. Write to us about which issues you want to hear about and express your opinion on the policies and people we’ve examined. If you’re reading this through a browser, you can subscribe to the newsletter.