Sam Bhalesar – Ottawa West-Nepean – Liberal

Thank you for sending me these questions for me to answer. I have attached the answers below.

Question 1

Right now, to my knowledge, 250,000 Ontarians are waiting for much-needed surgeries while millions of diagnostic procedures are delayed because of the pandemic. Only 40% of patients are receiving MRIs on time and more than 30% of people who need a knee replacement or prostate cancer surgery are not being treated on time.

As a caregiver to my aging mother, I am acutely aware of the need for expeditious and expansive health care and the obstacles that are presented as a result of the backlog permitted over the last few years.

The new Ontario Liberal team is offering people a choice: four more years of the same or an Ontario Liberal plan that will invest $1 billion in clearing the surgery backlog, dramatically expand surgical and diagnostic capacity, and create over 3,000 new hospital beds.

Question 2

Ontario Liberals will create over 3,000 new hospital beds and build up capacity across the province, starting with:

  • Turning Brampton’s Peel Memorial into a full hospital and delivering a third new hospital and cancer centre in Brampton
  • Delivering the new Mississauga Hospital and redeveloping the Queensway Health Centre
  • Redeveloping Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, SickKids, Sunnybrook and St. Joseph’s Health Centre
  • Expanding Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s mental health and cancer services
  • Adding cardiovascular surgery services in Thunder Bay
  • Building new hospitals in Windsor, South Niagara, Markdale, Moosonee, Moose Factory Island, Innisfil, Whitby and Ottawa
  • Redeveloping hospitals in Chatham-Kent, Waterloo Region, Brantford, Paris, Kincardine, Collingwood, Muskoka, Alliston, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Grimsby, North York, Scarborough, Newmarket, Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Prince Edward County, Kingston and Kenora

I will advocate for programs that expand access, reduce the stigma of having lung cancer or any other medical issue (such as mental illness) , and encourage preventative care.

Question 3

I would follow the science on this issue and would adhere the guidance of a newly appointed Liberal health minister that would prioritize access as well as preventative care. It has been shown that women with a family history of breast cancer may benefit more from starting screening before age 50 and that screening is covered by OHIP. I also recognize the enormous benefits of preventative screening for early detection.  The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends getting a mammogram every two years. You don’t need a doctor’s referral if you are over 50 and the service is covered by OHIP. I would advise the health minister to consider the viability and benefit (from a patient’s perspective and not for profit institutions) to expand non-referral mammograms beyond the high-risk assessment currently required.

Sam Bhalesar

Ontario Liberal Party Candidate for Ottawa West-Nepean