April 27, 2023

Verbatim: MPP Jamie West, question period, April 18, Queen's Park


Question Period, April 18, Queen’s Park

MPP Jamie West: My question is to the Premier.

Maison McCulloch is Sudbury’s hospice. I met with executive director Julie Aubé, and I was shocked to hear the hospice must rely on donations just to stay afloat. This is not normal. Julie told me how critical their 50/50 draw is because the Conservative government’s budget doesn’t spell out new money for any specific palliative care operations in Ontario. She said, “It is time hospices be recognized for the vital role they play in the health care system and start being funded like an equal clinical health care institution.”

My question is, will the Premier finally recognize the vital role hospices play in the health care system, and will he start funding them like an equal clinical health care institution?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: The member opposite is right when he talks about the value and importance of palliative care in hospice in our province. In fact, in our Your Health document, we laid out very specifically our commitment to expand hospice and palliative care in the province of Ontario because we see it as a really important part of our health care continuum. And in fact, in our 2023-24 budget, our government is expanding palliative care to services in local communities, adding 23 new hospice beds to the 500 that already exist in the province of Ontario.

There is no doubt that hospice and palliative care are an important community partner in our health care system, and we will continue to support and fund them appropriately.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.

MPP Jamie West: Sudbury’s hospice has to raise $1.6 million every year to operate. So the announcement from the minister that they’re going to open more hospice means that there’s more fundraising required to operate.

The $1.6 million — this isn’t for fancy extras, Speaker. This fundraising is for meal prep, for housekeepers, for cleaning supplies. Imagine worrying every single month that you won’t raise enough money to keep residents fed and cared for in the final stages of life. And the fear is justified, because last month, it was reported the hospice was relying on food banks to feed their patients — food banks. This is shameful. This is not normal, and this is not acceptable.

My question: Will the Conservative government increase the funding so that hospices like Maison McCulloch don’t have to rely on food banks, fundraisers and community donations to feed and care for their patients?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Hospices are a really integral and engaged community asset that many of us had the pleasure of participating and being part of. And by doing that, community members have historically always stepped up to support. In my own community, Bethell Hospice was founded by one family who saw the need and ultimately funded and formed a residential hospice that, frankly, is world-leading in the region of Peel.

We do this in our community because we want to give back. We want to support these very important services. And, yes, the province of Ontario will continue to support and fund hospice and palliative care, but we’re doing it with the support and the commitment of the communities they serve.

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