As many people have already raised this morning, our ICUs are near the breaking point. We’re getting close to 800 patients now being treated in our ICUs. Despite this fact, the government has refused to make public its plans for critical care triage in those ICUs.
People with disabilities and their loved ones and advocacy organizations still don’t know what has been negotiated in secret and what actually will happen when those life-and-death decisions take place.
At home, Dr. David Neilipovitz, the ICU director at the Ottawa Hospital, told CBC News, “It would be naive for us to think that triage or changes in the standard of care have not already come about.” Let’s think about that.
Yesterday, the minister rose in this House and said there is no clinical triage protocol, but we know that hospitals received one on January 13. We also know that a training was done for medical professionals on YouTube on January 23.
Speaker, I want to ask the minister, who is very well-versed on these issues: What instructions have been sent out and drafted to emergency medical technicians, ambulance services or health professionals about who will live and who will die in our ICUs?
What we are doing instead is creating the capacity so that we can care for all the patients who come into our hospitals, whether they’re COVID-19 patients or emergency patients who otherwise come in. We have created over 3,100 beds since this pandemic began; increased our intensive care capacity by 14%.
We are looking at bringing in other health professionals from other provinces and other countries so that, notwithstanding having the creation of those spaces, we will also have the health human resources in order to be able to operate them safely, carefully and professionally.
I know this minister served as Patient Ombudsperson for this province for years and knows full well that every patient—physiotypical, neurotypical or not—has a right to fair care at the point of service. The minister also should know that hospitals got a critical triage protocol on January 13, that a training has been conducted. So I must admit my extreme frustration that today, when our ICUs are nearing capacity, we are still hearing, “There are no plans.”
Speaker, let me say very clearly for this House: “I didn’t know”—at this point, not an acceptable answer. “I was just following orders”—at this point, not an acceptable answer. “Please forgive me,” to disabled patients and their loved ones—not an acceptable answer.
Will you make sure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against in the ICUs? Yes or no?
The Minister of Health to reply.
The Minister of Health, please reply.
I can assure the member opposite that no triage protocol has been approved. A draft was circulated in January. That was not approved by this government. It was something that has been discussed.
I understand that the rights of people with disabilities have been brought forward. I asked them—
Would the minister please conclude her response?