Hallway patient numbers ‘shocking’ but most hospitals over capacity, nurses’ association says

A vice president with the Ontario Nurses’ Association calls the number of people who have been treated in the hallways of a Brampton hospital “shocking,” but says most Ontario hospitals are operating over capacity and the situation will only get worse as flu season approaches.

An internal memo written by a top executive at the William Osler Health Centre and provided to CBC Toronto by the provincial NDP outlines how over a one-year period, more than 4,300 patients received care in the hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital.

Vicki McKenna, a registered nurse and first vice president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), said Tuesday that the capacity problem is not new and is only getting worse.

“Certainly the numbers are shocking, but those are Brampton’s numbers and we know that almost every hospital in Ontario has been running over capacity for some time now,” McKenna told CBC Toronto Tuesday in a telephone interview.

“We’ve been talking to government and employers about over-capacity for over 10 years and the situation has only increased.”

The news out of Brampton Civic, she said, “is really just one example of what’s happening in Ontario hospitals.”

McKenna could not discuss exact figures from other health facilities. However, she noted that it doesn’t matter if over-crowding is affecting a hospital of a few-dozen beds or a few hundred.

“If you’re talking about a 30-bed hospital, maybe the number’s not as big but the effect is the same, that there’s people in hallways that lack privacy, lack the proper environment around them to be cared for,” McKenna said.

“And for our nurses on the front lines in these hospitals, what they’re telling us is that … in many cases there isn’t additional staff added when there are patients placed in the hallways or in lounges or in auditoriums or in offices.”

While some hospitals have plans to deal with over-crowding, many do not, she said.

‘Excessive noise and reduced privacy’

The internal memo obtained by CBC News showed that between April 2016 and April 2017, 4,352 patients were treated in hallways at Brampton Civic Hospital, with lengths of stay ranging from 40 to as many as 70 hours. The memo was written by Joanne Flewelling, interim CEO of William Osler Health System. It is dated July 20.

“Hallway patients experience excessive noise and reduced privacy, which negatively affects their overall patient experience and quality of care, and may extend their overall length of stay,” Flewelling wrote. 

According to McKenna, research shows that patients who spend any length of time in hallways end up staying in hospital longer, and their risk of complications, such as infections, is higher because they are not being treated in the proper environment.

Nurses also tell her how both patients and their families feel when they are dealing with serious health problems without any privacy.

“These people are in hospitals because they’re sick. They need hospital care; they need good nursing care,” McKenna said. She added that often, when more patients enter the system, it does not usually lead to a corresponding increase in qualified staff to take care of them, such as nurses.

Jamie-Lee Ball 1

Jamie-Lee Ball spent five days in the hallway of Brampton’s Civic Hospital after going to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain. (Submitted by Jamie-Lee Ball)

‘I couldn’t sleep’

Jamie-Lee Ball spent five days in a hallway at Brampton Civic Hospital in March. She was suffering from abdominal bleeding, but due to over-crowding was placed in the neurology ward. Her gurney was right near the nurse’s station, so she had to listen to the hustle and bustle day and night. The overhead lights were never dimmed, and she had to share a public bathroom meant for visitors to the ward.

Because some patients on the ward were suffering from dementia, “code whites” were often called, which is the call for help when a patient is potentially violent.

“I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t have anything to eat for three days because of the disorganization of just trying to find out where I should be,” Bell told CBC Toronto on Tuesday.

“Not being able to sleep, it was a lot. It was really hard to heal.”

Her sister had to bring her a pillow.

“To think that this is going on in Brampton where we have a lot of resources,” Ball said.

She has also had to be at Brampton Civic seven times over the last month, and each time she says she heard a “Code Gridlock” called, which occurs when there are no available beds. In the memo obtained by CBC Toronto, a “Code Gridlock” was declared for 65 days in the first four months of 2017.

‘We need beds’

In a statement issued to CBC News, a public relations manager with the William Osler Health System said the agency is working with the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which administers funding to local hospitals, and the ministry “to address Brampton Civic Hospital’s current capacity and access challenges.

Brampton Civic Hospital

Brampton Civic Hospital is dealing with over-crowding. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

“At Osler, our team is dedicated to ensure timely access to care within one of the busiest ED environments in Canada. Like many Ontario hospitals, Osler hospitals have seen an exceptionally high number of patients in its Emergency Department (ED) over the last number of months, and staff and physicians remain focused on providing safe, quality care during these extremely busy times.”

The ONA, meanwhile, recently launched a public awareness campaign about overcrowding at hospitals, warning that it can take an average of 30.4 hours for a patient to be moved from the emergency room to the right hospital bed.

McKenna said that the provincial government’s recent pledges to increase acute care hospital beds across the province by more than 1,000, as well as additional funding for home care and other health services, is “welcome.

“However, that’s going to take time to put in place and that isn’t going to address all of the situations that are occurring really quickly.”

Asked what she would like to see happen, Ball said the solution is simple.

“Do something!” she urged politicians. “We need beds. There’s no other way to argue it. We need beds and we need them now.”

$5.41 per inmate per day: Bad food, small portions fueling prison tensions, federal watchdog finds

Canada’s prison watchdog says small portions and inferior quality food are driving heightened tensions and a black market economy behind bars.

In his annual report to Parliament, Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger said spending cuts in 2014 resulted in a fixed daily food budget of $5.41 per inmate.

That has fuelled a flood of complaints about portion size, especially protein, as well as quality and selection.

The supply of food has become part of the underground economy, where it is bought, bartered and sold for other items, Zinger said. 

“Playing with the food of hungry and frustrated prisoners can have unintended detrimental effects,” he said.

Dissatisfaction with quality and portion sizes was a “contributing factor” in the confrontation that led to a deadly riot at Saskatchewan Penitentiary on Dec. 14, 2016.

More than 200 inmates caused extensive damage in the medium-security wing of the federal institution in Prince Albert. One 43-year-old prisoner died and three others were assaulted.

Buying food from canteen

Zinger said each offender’s meals provide 2,600 calories, which is the guideline for an inactive male aged 31-50.

“The problem is that the active young man under age 30 still constitutes a majority population in federal corrections,” he said, adding that many offenders say they don’t get enough to eat, or have to buy supplemental food from the canteen.

Correctional Investigator on prison food0:49

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office said an audit of prison food services will be completed next year,

“CSC will take the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s recommendations into consideration while developing the audit’s objectives and scope in the coming months,” said spokesman Scott Bardsley.

As part of the Conservative cost-cutting initiative, that saved an estimated $6.4 million, a national menu was created along with regional production centres where food is prepared, cooked and chilled in a centralized kitchen.

Daily ration cost

Food is now prepared in industrial-sized kettles and tanks up to two weeks in advance, chilled in bulk packaging, stored frozen then shipped to the institutions for “retherming,” according to the report

To meet the low daily ration cost along with minimum nutritional requirements, powdered milk was substituted for fresh milk, bulky meat portions replaced with more select cuts, expensive grains were removed, vegetable selection was reduced and English muffins were replaced with toast, the report reads.

“Not surprisingly, when these changes were first introduced, inmate grievances related to food issues spiked,” the report reads.

The food issue was one of several issues highlighted in the correctional investigator’s annual report, most of them which have been flagged in past reports.

Zinger said the lack of progress in some key areas such as the over-representation of Indigenous people and the treatment of mentally ill offenders is “frustrating.”

“The lack of traction I’m getting from my recommendations in this annual report is disappointing, and I would hope certainly that on the broad government priorities that there would be more take-up on those priorities,” he said.

Steps to address problems

Bardsley said the government is committed to ensuring a “fair, humane and effective” correctional system, and has invested money and taken steps to address some pressing problems.

Among Zinger’s other concerns:

Lack of therapeutic environments for federally sentenced women: Living conditions are “harsh and inappropriate” for women struggling with serious mental illness, some of whom engage in chronic self-injurious behaviour. The practice of temporarily transferring acutely mentally ill women on an emergency basis to all-male treatment centres where they are separated and held in complete isolation is “entirely inappropriate, unacceptable and contrary to international human rights standards,” he said.  

Use of segregation: Admissions and lengths of stay in segregation have decreased significantly, but some problems remain. Segregation cells lack appropriate ventilation, windows and natural light and outdoor segregation “yards” are often little more than bare concrete pens topped with razor wire, Zinger said.  

Prison work: Less than 10 per cent of inmates are gainfully employed at any given time, and too many are engaged in menial institutional jobs rather prison industries that will lead to viable work after they are released. Opportunities to acquire apprenticeship hours towards a trade certificate are scarce and women prisoners are most often put to work on gender stereotypical work like sewing, textiles and laundry.

Lack of alternatives for mentally ill offenders: The use of physical restraints, clinical seclusion, suicide watch and segregation to manage people in serious psychological distress remains problematic.  

Canadian government to match charitable donations for Rohingya crisis

New

Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says government will match donations made between Aug. 25 – Nov. 28

By Brennan MacDonald, CBC News Posted: Oct 31, 2017 1:27 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 31, 2017 1:27 PM ET

The Canadian government is stepping up its humanitarian effort on the Rohingya refugee crisis, announcing Tuesday that it would match every eligible donation made by individual Canadians to registered charities between Aug. 25 and Nov. 28.

“In the face of this crisis, I know that Canadians want to help. They want to do their part,” said Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau. “The needs on the ground are huge, particularly for women and children who represent 70 per cent of new refugees since August.”

The United Nations refugee agency estimates that since Aug. 25, more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar and are now in Bangladesh. The latest surge follows a brutal Myanmar army-led campaign against the Muslim-minority population that the UN rights chief has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The Canadian government has already committed more than $25 million in humanitarian assistance funding to Bangladesh and Myanmar this year.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed former Ontario premier Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar. Rae is travelling to Myanmar this week.

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Woodland caribou continue to decline as provinces fail to meet protection deadline

Five years after they were forced to come up with strategies to protect habitat for the boreal caribou, not a single province has met that deadline, according to a federal government progress report released today.

The report paints a bleak picture for the animal. 

While the regions finish drafting their strategies, the number of caribou continues to decline, the report says.

The document also states that while provinces have made some progress on coming up with recovery strategies for the caribou, the iconic species continue to decline in numbers, and the “habitat condition in the majority of ranges has worsened since 2012.”

The caribou are found in the boreal forest that stretches like a ribbon across nine provinces and territories. The majority of their habitat falls on provincial Crown land.

In 2012, those jurisdictions were mandated under the federal species at risk act to come up with plans to protect the caribou habitat under their jurisdiction.

Tuesday’s report states “provinces and territories have not fully met the Oct. 5, 2017, deadline for completing range plans.”

Trying to stop the decline

“However some progress has been achieved,” it adds.

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec released draft or final range plans or portions of strategies. Alberta committed to completing a draft plan by this December and Saskatchewan will also have a draft plan before the end of the year as well.

Manitoba has indicated it will have final plans for five of the nine caribou ranges by next year. The rest will be done by 2020.

Quebec will have the second phase of its provincial action plan by the spring of 2018.

But in the interim, the number of caribou continues to decline.

“The best available data, submitted by provinces and territories, indicates that many boreal caribou local populations continue to decline across Canada,” according to the report.

“There are several small local populations, some of which are isolated, that continue to be at greater risk of extirpation or of not achieving or maintaining self-sustaining status.”

At the same time more or more of its habitat is disturbed.

Environmental group sues government

This report comes as an environmental group is taking the federal government to court for what it says is a failure to uphold its responsibilities laid out in the Species at Risk Act.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has not acted to protect the habitat of the boreal woodland caribou.

The group says the environment minister’s lack of action in reporting on preservation efforts has left the caribou habitat fragmented and unprotected from industrial development resulting in a decline of caribou populations.

McKenna’s office won’t comment on the lawsuit while it’s before the courts.

But after a spring meeting with her provincial counterparts to talk about species at risk, and in particular the caribou, McKenna told reporters “It’s challenging. Let’s be frank. We know there is work to be done. It requires everyone working together.”

In the wake of this report, Environment Canada will begin its own assessment of the caribou, and its habitat across the country. That review is expected to be done early in 2018.

Provinces fail to meet federal deadline on protecting caribou

Five years after they were forced to come up with strategies to protect habitat for the boreal caribou, not a single province has met that deadline, according to a federal government progress report released today.

The report paints a bleak picture for the animal. 

While the regions finish drafting their strategies, the number of caribou continues to decline, the report says.

The document also states that while provinces have made some progress on coming up with recovery strategies for the caribou, the iconic species continue to decline in numbers, and the “habitat condition in the majority of ranges has worsened since 2012.”

The caribou are found in the boreal forest that stretches like a ribbon across nine provinces and territories. The majority of their habitat falls on provincial Crown land.

In 2012, those jurisdictions were mandated under the federal species at risk act to come up with plans to protect the caribou habitat under their jurisdiction.

Tuesday’s report states “provinces and territories have not fully met the Oct. 5, 2017, deadline for completing range plans.”

Trying to stop the decline

“However some progress has been achieved,” it adds.

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec released draft or final range plans or portions of strategies. Alberta committed to completing a draft plan by this December and Saskatchewan will also have a draft plan before the end of the year as well.

Manitoba has indicated it will have final plans for five of the nine caribou ranges by next year. The rest will be done by 2020.

Quebec will have the second phase of its provincial action plan by the spring of 2018.

But in the interim, the number of caribou continues to decline.

“The best available data, submitted by provinces and territories, indicates that many boreal caribou local populations continue to decline across Canada,” according to the report.

“There are several small local populations, some of which are isolated, that continue to be at greater risk of extirpation or of not achieving or maintaining self-sustaining status.”

At the same time more or more of its habitat is disturbed.

Environmental group sues government

This report comes as an environmental group is taking the federal government to court for what it says is a failure to uphold its responsibilities laid out in the Species at Risk Act.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has not acted to protect the habitat of the boreal woodland caribou.

The group says the environment minister’s lack of action in reporting on preservation efforts has left the caribou habitat fragmented and unprotected from industrial development resulting in a decline of caribou populations.

McKenna’s office won’t comment on the lawsuit while it’s before the courts.

But after a spring meeting with her provincial counterparts to talk about species at risk, and in particular the caribou, McKenna told reporters “It’s challenging. Let’s be frank. We know there is work to be done. It requires everyone working together.”

In the wake of this report, Environment Canada will begin its own assessment of the caribou, and its habitat across the country. That review is expected to be done early in 2018.

Photography exhibit ‘filling the void’ for Indigenous youth

Colourful graffiti covers a massive wall next to a rumbling subway station. But it’s something far more mundane that’s caught the eye of budding photographer Jeremiah McLaughlin-Assinewai.

The 16-year-old sits on the ground to get the right angle with his smartphone, training his lens on a tangle of green weeds bursting through the pavement.

The affable teen considers himself a city boy, but says his newfound interest in photography is opening him up to seeing the world — and himself — in a new light.

“My whole life I never really wanted to pursue anything, it was always about my sports, hockey and everything, but this really changed (things) and now I have a fun hobby that I enjoy,” says McLaughlin-Assinewai, who lives in Sudbury, Ont.

“It expresses the way I feel and it’s just making memories. Every photo is a memory to me.”

Indigenous Photography 20171031

A photo by Cedar Landon who took part in a photo mentoring program led by charity Jayu in partnership with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jayu, Cedar Landon (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Later, he darts into the brush at a nearby park to capture more images with eight other young photographers, all Indigenous youth taking part in a photography project centred around truth and reconciliation.

The outing has been organized by the charitable organization Jayu in partnership with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. Over the course of two weeks in August, seasoned photographers led classes in storytelling and photography, with Graeme Roy, director of news photography for The Canadian Press, among those involved.

It all leads up to a two-month photo exhibit in Toronto beginning Friday, with all proceeds going to the youth.

Indigenous Photography 20171031

A photo by Troy Obed who took part in a photo mentoring program led by charity Jayu in partnership with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jayu, Troy Obed (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Stephanie Fox-Assinewei, a youth co-ordinator at the Native Canadian Centre, says it’s about more than just encouraging a new skill, but building self-esteem and pride in Indigenous culture.

Fox-Assinewei brought three of her sons to the project, including McLaughlin-Assinewai, and is happy to see interest in their heritage grow. The family is from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island.

“They take the culture more seriously as they’re getting older. They used to dance when they were small but they kind of grew out of that,” she notes.

“This program is giving them encouragement, empowerment, to let them know that it’s OK to identify as First Nations and that we are working on breaking those barriers to have reconciliation.”

Indigenous Photography 20171031

Cedar Landon, an Indigenous youth with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto takes a picture on a smartphone in Toronto’s High Park as he participates in Jayu’s “iAm” program on Tuesday, August 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Those are lessons that Cedar Landon says she’s seized on, noting that although she’s spent most of her life in Toronto and Vancouver she calls the Georgian Bay community of Neyaashiinigmiing home.

The 22-year-old says photography has helped her connect with her heritage, and focus on taking the first steps towards a career as a chef.

“I’ve always been living in the city and moving place-to-place and photography has really helped me just be in the moment, capturing what’s around me right then-and-there and the people who I’m with right then-and-there,” says Landon, who enrolled in a culinary program in Toronto that started in September.

“Drinking and drugs is a lot of my peers’ outlet in trying to fill a void, but photography’s helped me stay on my right path and use my outlet in a positive way.”

Indigenous Photography 20171031

Brandon Gilbert, an Indigenous youth and a member of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto takes a picture on a smartphone in Toronto’s High Park as he participates in Jayu’s “iAm” program on Tuesday, August 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Previous incarnations of Jayu’s iAm program focused on homeless youth and young newcomers from the Middle East, including refugees from Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Jayu founder Gilad Cohen says he’s been impressed by how quickly this group of youth — aged 13 to 25 — responded to the program.

McLaughlin-Assinewai says it won’t be hard to apply the lessons he’s learned elsewhere in his life, especially a newfound drive to embrace his family’s culture, language and history.

“Being in the city, you kind of lose that, you lose that way of how you were raised. But this program’s really connected me back to that.” 

Conservatives still tops in party fundraising but Liberals close the gap

For the fourth consecutive quarter, the Conservative Party out-fundraised the governing Liberals, taking in over $3.6 million in the third quarter of 2017.

New fundraising figures from Elections Canada shows the Conservatives raised $3,644,008 in the months of July, August and September from 32,211 individual contributors. That put them ahead of the Liberals, who took in $3,130,845 from 29,786 contributors.

Though the numbers still put the Conservatives on top, the party’s total fundraising was down for the second consecutive quarter. The party had raised just over $4 million in the second quarter of the year. But with the exception of 2015, when the country was in the midst of an election campaign, the Conservatives have seen a drop in fundraising from the second to third quarters in every year since 2010.

In addition to the money raised by the party, the contestants from the leadership race that ended with Andrew Scheer’s victory in May raised about $77,000 to help service debt accrued during the campaign. That included $3,501 raised by Kevin O’Leary, who says he is waiting until next year to focus on paying down the substantial debts from his abortive leadership bid.

The Liberals saw their fundraising increase for the second consecutive quarter, closing the gap between them and the Conservatives by half to just $513,000. But this was the worst third quarter for the party since 2013 and the smallest number of individual contributors in a quarter since then.

NDP fundraising increases in 3rd quarter

The New Democrats raised $1,090,260 from 19,925 individual contributors, an increase from the second quarter of 2017 as well as the third quarter of last year. They also raised money from more contributors than in any quarter since the 2015 federal election.

Leadership contestants added another $835,000 brought into the party’s orbit. Jagmeet Singh, who became the NDP’s new leader at the beginning of the month, led the field with $374,183 in fundraising. In total, Singh raised just under $731,000 throughout the campaign.

That put him well ahead of his defeated rivals. Ontario MP Charlie Angus raised $189,181 in the third quarter, followed by Manitoba MP Niki Ashton at $173,365 and Quebec MP Guy Caron at $94,812.50.

The New Democrats had the lowest average quarterly contribution at $54.72 per donor, compared to $68.39 for the Greens, $99.67 for the Bloc Québécois, $105.17 for the Liberals and $113.13 for the Conservatives.

Bloc, Green fundraising slips

The Greens put up their worst quarter in four years, taking just $443,828 from 6,490 individual contributions. So far this year, the Greens have raised $1.4 million, well behind the NDP at $2.8 million, the Liberals at $9 million and the Conservatives at $13 million. 

The Bloc Québécois has raised just $304,000 so far in 2017, with $76,445 coming into the party in the third quarter from 767 contributions. The party has seen its contributions slip in three consecutive quarters.

Sexual harassment lawsuit against former Ontario premier David Peterson dismissed

A sexual harassment lawsuit launched by a former Pan Am Games employee against former Ontario premier and TO2015 chair David Peterson has been dismissed.

Torys LLP, the law firm that represented Peterson, said Tuesday in a news release that the Ontario Superior Court has entirely dismissed the lawsuit by Ximena Morris.

Morris, for her part, has issued an apology to Peterson and his wife Shelley Peterson for launching the lawsuit. 

Ximena Morris

Former Pan Am Games employee Ximena Morris has issued an apology to David Peterson and his wife Shelley for having launched the lawsuit. (CBC)

Lisa Talbot, lawyer for David Peterson and a partner in the firm, said the dismissal of the lawsuit is good news.

“David Peterson is a public figure who has contributed enormously to the service of the people of Ontario, both as premier and through continued volunteering activities, including chairing the Pan Am games,” Talbot said in the release.

“We have maintained from the beginning that this lawsuit was completely without merit. Sexual harassment is intolerable. This was never that case.”

In her statement of claim, Morris alleged on several occasions that Peterson made inappropriate comments toward her that escalated into unwanted touching. Peterson had denied “all the allegations” levelled by Morris. 

Hudson’s Bay Company looking to sell flagship Vancouver property

Hudson’s Bay is looking to sell its flagship store in downtown Vancouver.

A joint venture between Hudson’s Bay Co. and RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust says it may sell its downtown Vancouver property.

A statement said that it’s engaged with CBRE and Brookfield Financial Real Estate Group to explore a sale.

The Granville Street property is currently occupied by a Hudson’s Bay department store, which has a long-term lease.

Interim CEO Richard Baker says any sale would include the continued operation of the store.

hudson's bay the bay vancouver granville

The Hudson’s Bay location on June 10, 1918. The old store is in foreground, the new store in the background. Granville Street is to the left. (National Archives of Canada/W.H. Calder via Canadian Press)

The joint venture also says it expects to close on a $200-million mortgage on the property and the proceeds will be distributed proportionally to its partners.

The joint venture owns or controls 10 flagship properties in Canada.

MMIWG inquiry in Nova Scotia LIVE

Air Date: Oct 31, 2017 8:00 AM ET

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MMIWG inquiry in Nova Scotia LIVE0:00

The National Inquiry hosts the first of 3 days of community hearings in Membertou First Nation to hear from families of lost loved ones and survivors of violence.

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