TORONTO — Health care was the top priority in an hour-long discussion between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, the province's leader said Tuesday.
The two leaders met at the Ontario legislature – the first time Trudeau visited Ford at his office since 2018.
Ontario is grappling with a crisis in hospitals across the province, with many emergency departments temporarily shutting down for hours or days at a time this summer, largely due to a severe shortage of nurses.
Ford said he discussed with Trudeau pending Ontario legislation that would force patients in hospital awaiting long-term care to nursing homes not of their choosing on a temporary basis. The province believes that move will ease the burden hospitals.
"We agreed that the status quo is not working," Ford told reporters after the meeting.
The premier shared few details about the part of their conversation on the looming legislation, which has sparked widespread criticism from seniors and long-term care advocates.
Before the meeting got underway, Trudeau said that the two will be there for Ontarians during this "difficult time."
“I know Canadians want to see the orders of government working together,” Trudeau said.
“And I’m always looking for that and I really appreciate your welcome here.”
The province has also said it will revamp the health-care system with more publicly covered surgeries performed at private clinics
"We do have to deliver differently," Ford said.
The premier has long been asking for billions of dollars more from the federal government for health care.
"We know how urgent this is and we're gonna make sure that we sit down and really work out a deal," he said.
"He knows what we're looking for."
Ford said that he and the leaders of the other provinces and territories all need more help with health care. Like Ontario, hospitals across the country are grappling with temporary emergency room closures due to staffing shortages.
He said he also discussed housing, infrastructure and immigration with Trudeau.
Ford has previously said the province has more than 300,000 jobs that need to be filled and that he wants to ramp up immigration.
"We brought in about 211,000 people last year, and we really want to work with the federal government trying to get that flow going through certain sectors that we desperate desperately need," he said, citing the need for more workers in health-care and the skilled trades as well as untrained workers.
"We need people," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2022.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press