Ontario Auditor General Publishes Annual Report

Ontario’s acting Auditor General issued his office’s annual report on Wednesday and the province’s new Liberal Leader was quick to criticize the Ford government.

The report from Nick Stavropoulos covers various aspects of the health care system, and several other topics, and indicated that Ontarians’ need for family doctors is having an effect on emergency departments.

Bonnie Crombie, elected Ontario Liberal party leader on Saturday, said in a post on the social media platform ‘X’ that the Ford Conservatives “are in an out-of-control spiral, & have no plan to tackle the most important issues facing Ontario families: making their lives more affordable, ensuring families have access to world-class healthcare & education, & that we have a plan to protect our planet.”

The report said one in five visits to the ER involved patients for non-urgent issues because they didn’t have a family doctor, or access to other services.

There were over 200 temporary emergency department closures in the past year due in part, the report says, to a lack of a comprehensive provincewide strategy to maintain staffing levels involving 23 hospitals primarily located in rural or remote areas, and largely related to a nursing shortage and other staffing challenges..

Less urgent or non-urgent cases accounted for approximately 23 percent, or 1.29 million, of all emergency department visits in 2022/23. Some of these patients, such as those experiencing a sore throat or cold, did not require emergency care but chose to visit the emergency department because it was the only immediate option available or they had no primary care provider.

In the ER, wait times to see a physician spiked and varied significantly from region to region.

The report says that while wait times to see a physician were relatively stable prior to 2020, there was a significant increase following the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients waited an average of 118 minutes after being triaged to receive their physician initial assessment in emergency departments in 2022/23, approximately 30 minutes longer than the wait time in 2013/14.

The annual report also touched on the government’s move of the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place. It found the Ford government made decisions with incomplete or preliminary cost information.




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