Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition

November 04, 2009 14:25 ET

Strathroy Concerned Citizens Group Calls for

Cross-Province Public Consultations, Moratorium, on Hospital Cuts and Closures; Joins a Network of Groups Across Ontario Fighting the Cuts

Attention: Assignment Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--(Marketwire - Nov. 4, 2009) - The Ontario Health Coalition and the Strathroy Concerned Citizens criticized the McGuinty government's plans for its Rural and Northern Health Panel for lack of public consultations. Noting that many devastating cuts and closures are already underway, the group called for a moratorium pending proper public consultations and a review of the current cuts.

The government announced the Panel in response to a major protest against hospital cuts and closures, involving thousands of residents from small and rural communities in front of the Ontario Legislature last April. However, when it finally released the Terms of Reference for the Health Minister's Panel on Rural and Northern Care, there is not a single mention of hospitals. In addition, there are no plans for public consultations until after the panel completes its work this winter; too late for many of the small and rural hospital cuts and closures now underway.

The group called for the following:
* The Terms of Reference must explicitly include a review of the impact of small and rural hospital cuts and closures on the affected communities.
* A moratorium on cuts and closures, pending the completion of the Panel's work, in keeping with the recommendation for a moratorium made by the Ontario Medical Association.
* Cross-province public consultations, on the record, in the affected communities, with the opportunity for residents to bring their experiences, concerns and submissions forward.

"This Panel is not supposed to be another game of "smoke and mirrors," said Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "It was supposed to respond to the very serious concerns about loss of vital hospital services raised by thousands of residents - not only here but all across the province."

"The Panel should not be another opportunity for the government to hide from their responsibilities," said Kathryn Gordyn, co-chair of the Strathroy and Area Concerned Citizens Group. "We are angry that the decision to cut and close local hospitals is occurring without any legislation authorizing hospital restructuring across the province, without proper debate in the legislature and without any real public consultations. It shows extremely poor governance."

"The Provincial Government has already forced devastating cuts to the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital. During this past year they have closed the entire fourth floor, eliminating 30 beds," she noted. "Following stories in the news media it is very evident that the Provincial Government's cuts to beds and services in Ontario have created a dangerous situation with the H1N1 Flu Pandemic with insufficient beds and an overload of work to hospital staff. Our local hospitals are vital for patient safety, to help reduce wait times and for our local economy. Our hospitals need to be there."

"The Terms of Reference and process set out by the McGuinty government for its Panel on Rural and Northern Heath falls far short of what is needed. They are putting the cart before the horse," concluded Mehra. "By the time they get to developing policy about what is needed in our community, the cuts will have already happened. There should be a moratorium on cuts, proper policy developed and debated, and only then could major hospital restructuring be considered."
/For further information: Natalie Mehra
416.230.6402 or
416.441.2502/ IN: HEALTH, LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Kathryn Gordyn
    Primary Phone: 519-245-9221