By: Harsimranjit Kaur
Late 2019 saw a world shift as people globally were subjected to unprecedented change and ironically, quarantine provided an opportunity for underrepresented communities to connect and issues to be spotlighted.
The backbone and structural basis of any strong and thriving community is the services provided to its residents. While Canada allocates several million dollars of funding towards medical care to its municipalities, there has been an evident gap seen between the funding gone towards Peel, with Brampton being especially underfunded in comparison to its neighboring municipalities. Looking at past years, in 2017 for example, over 4000 patients received health care in the public hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital rather than private rooms, as an absence of space quickly became problematic. As occupancy rates at this facility were pushed to 144% over capacity by surge pressures in the community, “Code Gridlock” was put into place. It is declared when a hospital exceeds its safe occupancy capacity. Overcrowding during these time periods left desperate patients no choice but to wait up to four days in the emergency room simply for access to a bed. That year, I had a family member who had fractured a bone and had witnessed myself the excruciating wait times at our sole medical facility in the city, as doctors and nurses worked long hours in an effort to control the overcrowded establishment.
This occurred in the absence of Covid-19 and the situation only worsened as Peel Region became one of the hardest hit by the different variants of the virus. At one point this region had a positivity rate of 15.9%, surpassing Toronto’s rate of 12% and the provincial average. However, underfunding continued to be a common occurrence as the federal government’s initial decision consisted of allocating $14 million for COVID-19 support while providing none for peel. Disparities continued in testing centres as well, despite Peel Region having a greater need due to its socio-economic conditions.
Regional Councilor Martin Medeiros of Brampton stated, “What the pandemic has done is put more of a spotlight on how we’re chronically underfunded. The leader of any political party needs the 905 to win a majority, and we’ve delivered… But when it comes to getting love, we don’t get the love. Why is that?”
The Peel Region is composed primarily of underrepresented immigrant groups, whose voices and needs are being overlooked. To combat this issue, we must work together to inform upper governmental institutions that this is not acceptable. This can be done through emailing and increased public publicity as we must ensure our voices are not ignored.
Bramptonist. “Brampton’s Hospital Crisis: How Did We Get Here.” Bramptonist, 3 Nov. 2017, bramptonist.com/bramptons-hospital-crisis-how-did-we-get-here/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.
CBC Radio. “‘The System Failed the People of Brampton’: How COVID-19 Is Taking a Toll in Hard-Hit City.” CBC, 5 May 2021, http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-may-4-2021-1.6012904/the-system-failed-the-people-of-brampton-how-covid-19-is-taking-a-toll-in-hard-hit-city-1.6012995. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.
—. “COVID-19 Hotspot Brampton, Ont., Chronically Underfunded in Community Health Services, Local Advocate Says.” CBC, 4 Dec. 2020, http://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/covid-19-hotspot-brampton-ont-chronically-underfunded-in-community-health-services-local-advocate-says-1.5823815. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.
Gamrot, Sabrina. “Peel Region’s COVID-19 Test Positivity Rate Higher than Toronto and Provincial Average.” The Toronto Star, 16 Apr. 2021, http://www.thestar.com/local-caledon/news/2021/04/16/peel-region-s-covid-19-test-positivity-rate-higher-than-toronto-and-provincial-average.html#:~:text=Peel%20Region%20has%20one%20of%20the%20highest%20COVID-19. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.
Isai, Vjosa. “Pandemic Revives Calls for ‘Fair Share’ Funding in Peel.” Msn, 18 Jan. 2021, http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/other/pandemic-revives-calls-for-fair-share-funding-in-peel/ar-BB1cR4Lp. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.
Wittnebel, Joel. “Peel Council Trying to Help Public Health Unit after Alarming Report on Chronic Underfunding.” The Pointer, 23 Feb. 2019, thepointer.com/article/2019-02-23/peel-council-trying-to-help-public-health-unit-after-alarming-report-on-chronic-underfunding. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.