New poll confirms hospital funding will be key issue in booming and vote-rich GTA/905 regions

    TORONTO, March 16 /CNW/ - The majority of residents of the vote-rich
GTA/905 say that hospitals in their region do not receive a fair share of
provincial funding and that the quality of hospital care in their communities
has declined because of underfunding, according to a recent public opinion
survey conducted by Léger Marketing and Redfern Research.
    More than one-half (51%) of GTA/905 residents of Durham, Halton, Peel and
York say the issue of improving local access to health care will be very
important in how they vote in the next provincial election. A further 37% say
it will be at least somewhat important.
    "This is a clear call for the provincial government to take action in
next week's budget. It is time to bring fairness to hospital funding in the
fast growing communities of the GTA/905," said Kirk Corkery, Chair of the
GTA/905 Healthcare Alliance. "This situation didn't happen overnight. For
years population growth has been systematically neglected in provincial
funding formulas, not just for hospital and other healthcare services but for
social services as well. GTA/905 residents believe that it is time for the
government to address the underfunding issue. I think many people will be
disappointed if the government doesn't respond to what is obviously a key
concern for more than one quarter of the population of the province," Corkery
    The telephone survey of 500 adult residents of the GTA/905 was conducted
between March 5 and March 14, 2007. It is considered accurate to within
4.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
    Among the key findings:

    -   46% of GTA/905 residents believe their hospitals get less than their
        fair share of provincial funding. Less than one-third (32%) believe
        their hospitals are treated fairly compared to other regions of the

    -   83% strongly agree that their community hospitals should receive a
        fair share of provincial funding.

    -   More than one-half of people in the region (51%) agree that the
        quality of hospital care in the GTA/905 has declined because of
        underfunding. Less than one-quarter (24%) disagree.

    -   Most people in the GTA/905 (67%) say that hospital access has not
        improved in the last five years. This includes 27% who say that
        access has actually gotten worse.

    -   An overwhelming number of residents (81%) strongly agree that it is
        important to have access to hospital care close to home. Yet, 52% of
        GTA/905 residents who needed hospital care last year had to leave
        their community to obtain some of that care.

    "This survey confirms that many of the 3 million people living in the
GTA/905 know that the provincial government's funding of their local hospitals
is not keeping pace with their booming communities," said Tariq Asmi,
Executive Director of the GTA/905 Healthcare Alliance. "They understand the
negative impact this is having on access to healthcare in their communities, a
point we made to the government during pre-budget consultations."
    Underfunding for GTA/905 hospitals presents a challenge for the Ontario
Government's Wait Time Strategy. The poll found 48% of people in the GTA/905
say the provincial government has done a poor or very poor job of reducing
wait times for healthcare in their GTA/905 community, while 24% give the
Province a fair grade. Only 14% of GTA/905 residents say the Province has done
a good or very good job in reducing wait times.
    Similarly, 34% of GTA/905 residents believe the Province has done a poor
or very poor job in improving the quality of hospital care in the GTA/905 over
the last 5 years, and a further 31% rated government performance as only fair.
In contrast, one-quarter (25%) credit the Province with a good or very good
performance in this area.
    "GTA/905 residents are not seeing the impact of provincial investments to
reduce wait times and improve the quality of care across Ontario. This is
likely due to the underlying gap in funding for GTA/905 hospitals that the
Province has yet to address," noted Asmi. "Adequate growth funding and
population-based funding for GTA/905 hospitals would help to address the
growing funding gap."
    A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study shows that GTA/905 residents are
receiving $214 less per resident for hospital care annually compared to the
provincial average. This translates into $900 million less per year in
provincial funding compared to the provincial average and the gap is growing
by millions of dollars each year.
    For background information and poll analysis, visit the GTA/905
Healthcare Alliance website at

For further information:

For further information: Tariq Asmi, Executive Director, GTA/905
Healthcare Alliance, Cell: (416) 948-2033, Office: (416) 205-1331,

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