The Ford government has announced that it will spend $116.5 million on the creation of hundreds of new hospital beds as part of a wider effort to boost capacity in the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at Brampton Civic Hospital on Tuesday morning.

He said that the investment will help create 766 additional beds at 32 hospitals and alternate healthcare facilities across the province. It is in addition to the $234.5 million that the province is already spending on creating 139 new critical care beds and up to 1,349 other beds.

“As we did during the first wave and during the summer we are continuing to build surge capacity,” Ford said in making the announcement. “We have allowed hospitals to construct temporary facilities on site to prepare for any scenario; we have allowed them to open beds in temporary facilities in communities, including hotels and recreation centres. We will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of the people in Brampton and across Ontario.”

Toronto Public Health has said that only 63 per cent of ICU beds in the city’s hospitals are currently occupied but that number goes up to 88 per cent when you look at acute care beds.

There is also a rising number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19. On Tuesday, a count of public health units an hospital network revealed that there were 348 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals, up from a few dozen as recently as this summer.

“It is very important for us to make sure that hospitals do have additional capacity for our COVID-19 patients, for our flu patients and also for people that need the surgeries and procedures that we had to postpone during the first wave. That is why today’s announcement is so important,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

According to a news release, the additional beds will “will add more capacity for hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots such as Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York region.”

While a full breakdown of where the beds will be located has not been provided, the province has said that 87 of them will be used to “alleviate hospital capacity pressures and reduce wait times” in the William Osler Health System.