The Ontario Liberals are calling on the province’s chief medical officer of health to provide an update on the “state of our public health-care system” amid the triple threat of respiratory viruses in Ontario.
In a news conference Thursday, MPP Dr. Adil Shamji said the province is experiencing a “tsunami of influenza,” with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario alone admitting 73 pediatric influenza patients in November.
“That’s the tip of the iceberg,” he told reporters.
“We are now seeing the worst health-care system performance in our province’s history with record wait times, record emergency department lengths of stay and record ambulance offload times. We have a shortage of children’s Tylenol, a shortage of health-care workers, a shortage of intensive care unit beds and a shortage of leadership.”
Data released earlier this month by Health Quality Ontario shows that average wait times for patients being admitted to an Ontario hospital from an emergency room reached a record high in October.
Patients were waiting an average of 22.9 hours in an ER that month, the data found.
Shamji said that Dr. Kieran Moore needs to stand behind an official podium and update the public on the state of the health-care system in Ontario.
“It has now been over one month since we’ve last heard from our medical officer of health,” he said.
“We’re about to go into the holidays and there is no updated guidance about how we can all protect each other as we head indoors. How can we keep each other safe, especially with looming Christmas parties? What should we do if someone at home is sick, but we’re feeling okay? What are the options to access medical care during the holidays?”
The last time Moore held a news conference was on Nov. 14, when he strongly recommended masking indoors.
At the time, Moore warned of the “three major viral threats”: COVID-19, influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). No mandate was issued for mask wearing and no further guidance was provided.
Between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, there were 2,709 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Ontario, representing an approximate 16 per cent positivity rate. There were also 26 institutional outbreaks.
Within that same time period, there were 4,932 cases of COVID-19 and 165 confirmed cases of RSV.
Toronto’s medical officer of health told reporters last week the city is seeing a “steep rise” of influenza activity and that it will likely peak over the holiday period, putting “extraordinary pressure on an already stretched health-care system.”
“Whether you’re gathering with family, or having dinner with colleagues are entering a large crowd of merrymakers or holiday goers, remember that the layers of protection help reduce your risk of infection: vaccination, hand washing, wearing a well fitted high-quality mask,” Dr. Eileen deVilla said.
“I ask all residents to do their part to contribute to a healthier holiday season.”
At the same time, Moore told the Canadian Press the flu season may have peaked.
CTV News Toronto has reached out to the Ministry of Health for an interview and to find out if Moore is planning to provide any public updates prior to the new year. The requests have not been acknowledged.