Brampton officials are asking citizens to sign a petition aimed at pressuring the Ford government to provide additional funding for the city's "underfunded and overburdened" health-care system.
Mayor Patrick Brown and a handful of city councillors spoke with the public and media at the opening day of the Brampton Farmers' Market on Saturday in an effort to raise awareness of the petition.
"Brampton is ground zero — ground zero when it comes to the negligence of health-care funding," Brown told CBC Toronto at the event.
"Hallway medicine has become the norm in our city. And I feel that that's not fair. Our residents pay the same provincial taxes as everyone else across the province and we expect to see attention from the provincial government," he continued.
The launch of the petition comes amid backlash to the Progressive Conservative government's decision to consolidate various health agencies across Ontario into a single superagency, while reducing or cutting funding to a number of other health initiatives.
Health care 'mayhem'
The petition, called a #FairDealForBrampton, demands the province provide "immediate" funding to relieve an increase of visits to the Urgent Care Centre at Peel Memorial Centre at the William Osler Health System, an acute care facility.
Brown said that Brampton's population growth is far outpacing health-care funding for the city, leading to overcrowded emergency rooms and budget strains at hospitals.
"We want to see attention to this crisis, to this mayhem, in the City of Brampton," Brown said.
"It's out of control."
The "crisis" in Brampton's emergency rooms made national headlines in 2017, when a story emerged of a patient who was bleeding internally spent five days on a gurney in the hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital due to severe overcrowding.
Meanwhile, an internal memo written by a top executive at the William Osler Health System and made public by the Ontario NDP said that more than 4,300 patients were treated in hallways at Brampton Civic Hospital during a year-long period.
Brown said Saturday that Premier Doug Ford campaigned on a promise to end hallway medicine in the province.
"We are challenging the premier: you made a commitment to end hallway medicine, and this is ground zero. Either you're going to help with hallway medicine or you're going to abdicate your responsibility," he said, adding that every week he hears a new "horror story" about care in the city's hospital.
Brampton officials are also asking for funding to finish a project at the same health centre that would see an expansion of over 100 new rehabilitation and complex continuing care beds.
Further, Brampton is asking for a third health-care facility to be built.
The petition is being made available "at a range of city facilities, including city hall, recreation centres and libraries," and special events throughout the summer, the city said on a special web page set up for the campaign.
"Later this year, we plan to bring a petition and busloads of Brampton residents to Queen's Park to let our government know that the situation is urgent and we need action," it continued.
Brampton facility given $3M: province
For its part, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care said it is "making significant investments" in Brampton.
"Every part of our government's plan to end hallway health care, and build a modern, sustainable, and integrated health-care system, starts with the patient," said Travis Kann, spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott, in an email statement.
"That's why we're taking a comprehensive approach to modernize the public health care system," Kann continued.
Kann went on to outline the funding Brampton has received since the Progressive Conservatives formed government last year, including almost $1.5 million for the William Osler Health System as part of the Hospital Infrastructure Renewal Fund.
In May, Elliott announced a $174 million investment for mental health and addictions services, of which Brampton received over $3 million.