Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition

November 03, 2009 17:15 ET

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

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 3, 2009) -

Attn: Assignment Editor

The Ontario Health Coalition; Friends of Four Counties Hospital; Mayor of West Elgin and Warden of Elgin-County, Graham Warwick;and former city councilor of Newbury, Monte McNaughton 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.

"Our main message is a call for the government to revise the mandate of the Rural and Northern Health Panel to include public consultations in every community affected by or facing hospital cuts or closures, "said Mary Bodnar of the Friends of Four Counties Hospital. "We are criticizing the mandate that the government has given to the panel, which was created in response to the Ontario Health Coalition's massive protest regarding hospital cuts and closures."

"This Panel is not supposed to be another game of "smoke and mirrors," added 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."

"Our economy and safety is largely dependent on local hospitals," added Mayor of West Elgin and Warden of Elgin-County, Graham Warwick. "This special Panel on Rural and Northern Health Care has the opportunity to get a clear picture and idea of how these cuts affect individuals, families, and the community as a whole."

"The Terms of Reference for the Panel on Rural and Northern Health must include public consultations," concluded former city councilor of Newbury, Monte McNaughton. "Community resources and community money went into building and running our hospitals. Community input should be considered when developing hospital policies."

Contact Information

  • Mary Bodnar
    Graham Warwick
    Monte McNaughton
    Natalie Mehra
    416-230-6402 or 416-441-2502