'Just unreal': Ontario government slammed for asking Red Cross to help kid's hospital

To handle Ontario's upcoming respiratory season, Ottawa's children's hospital says it has accepted support from the Canadian Red Cross. (Photo by Adrian Wyld via The Canadian Press)
To handle Ontario's upcoming respiratory season, Ottawa's children's hospital says it has accepted support from the Canadian Red Cross. (Photo by Adrian Wyld via The Canadian Press)

Ontario's Ford government is being called out on social media after Ottawa's children's hospital said it'll accept support from Canadian Red Cross staff.

On Saturday, Toronto palliative care physician Naheed Dosani slammed Ontario's government on Twitter for its lack of investment in the province's health care system.

"Every one of us should be angry that one of Ontario's largest children's hospitals has had to call in the Red Cross to help with staffing. Every one of us should be demanding that our government immediately invest more resources into our health care system," Dosani tweeted Saturday evening. "Every one of us."

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Dosani eventually took to Instagram on Sunday to share a screenshot of his tweet, while also expanding on his thoughts.

"Just unreal," he wrote in his caption. "Yesterday, Ottawa's children's hospital [CHEO], which has been over capacity for weeks and even opened a second pediatric ICU recently, announced that it has asked the Canadian Red Cross for help as it continues to face a surge in young patients suffering from respiratory viruses."

On Nov. 29, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario released a report indicating the province has spent $3.5 billion less than expected in the first half of 2022 to 2023.

For health care, the province of Ontario spent $859 million less than expected so far this fiscal year.

"It is so wrong that in the midst of an unprecedented health care crisis when people (and especially children) are suffering and health care staff are burning out, that the Ontario government continues to under spend on our health care system," Dosani continued on Instagram. "This is not okay. Ontarians deserve more. Ontarians deserve better. Ontarians deserve a health care system that doesn't rely on the Red Cross to bail us out."

Social media users shared their frustrations, with many calling out the "shameful" leadership of Premier Doug Ford.

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On Saturday, CBC News reported the news that the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) admitted it would be accepting help from Canadian Red Cross workers.

Tammy DiGiovanni, senior vice-president and chief nursing executive at the CHEO, replied in an email saying the hospital asked for "extra support" from organizations across the region. The call for help was to ensure children will be able to receive adequate care through the flu, RSV and COVID-19 seasons.

The Canadian Red Cross will provide the CHEO with a small team of staff to support its own clinical teams.

"This will allow some of our deployed staff to get back to their regular roles," DiGiovanni added.

While the Red Cross did not have a definitive start date for its workers, the CHEO said staff would be on-site as early as this coming week.

The CHEO has seen "unprecedented" demand over the past several weeks, and has responded by opening a second pediatric ICU and asking nearby hospitals to admit teenaged patients.

As respiratory cases surge across Canada, including a recent climb in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, similar stories have been seen in other provinces.

Earlier this week, Rotary Flames House, a pediatric hospice in Calgary, temporarily paused its services after choosing to discharge all of its respite patients and redeploy its staff to Alberta Children's Hospital.

Newfoundland and Labrador's children's hospital, Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre, was also forced to cancel some routine surgeries and appointments amid rising respiratory cases.