The Alliance to Save Ontario's Small, Rural and Northern Hospitals

The Alliance to Save Ontario's Small, Rural and Northern Hospitals

April 29, 2009 12:00 ET

Ontario's Small, Rural and Northern Municipalities Outline Strategy to Save Local Health Care

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 29, 2009) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available via Marketwire on the picture wire of The Canadian Press.

Today, an alliance of municipalities from across the province presented a health care strategy to save vital services in Ontario's small, rural and northern communities at a press conference and rally at Queen's Park.

"Everyone should have access to high-quality health services, no matter where they live," said Doug Martin, chairman of the Alliance to Save Ontario's Small, Rural and Northern Hospitals and mayor of Fort Erie.

"Local heath care is currently in crisis and the province needs to create a health care strategy specifically for Ontario's small, rural and northern communities."

The Alliance outlined a strategy focusing on five guarantees:

1. Hospital Access & Services Guarantee;

2. 24-7 Emergency Room Access & Travel Time Guarantee;

3. Community Information & Education Guarantee;

4. Accountability & Transparency Guarantee; and

5. Fair, Flexible & Community-Based Funding Guarantee.

Thousands of people from across the province participated in today's SOS - Save Our Services - rally on the front lawn of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. They included mayors, local councillors, health professionals and residents from the Town of Fort Erie, City of Port Colborne, County of Lambton, Municipality of Magnetawan, Town of Petrolia, Town of Tillsonburg, Township of Armour, Township of Brooke-Alvinston, Township of Ryerson, Village of Oil Springs and the Village of Burks Falls.

BACKGROUNDER

A Health Care Strategy for Ontario's Small, Rural and Northern Communities

1. Hospital Access & Services Guarantee:

- Recognize hospitals as the hubs of small, rural and northern communities;

- Deliver local emergency care, long-term care and mental health services;

- Provide access to diagnostic services and lab testing within the community;

- Maintain and protect full-service hospital access: outpatient services and acute care beds;

- Establish a rural health care staff recruitment and retention strategy; and

- Establish a resource sharing strategy and create connectivity between hospitals.

2. 24-7 Emergency Room Access & Travel Time Guarantee:

- Ensure ERs are open on a 24-7 basis; and

- Establish guidelines for how long it should take to travel to properly-staffed emergency room facilities.

3. Community Information & Education Guarantee:

- Create a comprehensive awareness and education campaign to inform those living in small, rural and northern communities about their health care services;

- Establish guidelines for ongoing education about local health services; and

- Provide timely information about changes in health services.

4. Accountability & Transparency Guarantee:

- Recognize that government, Local Health Integration Networks and hospital boards must be accountable to the communities they serve;

- Establish strict guidelines for open and transparent community interaction by LHINs and hospital boards in small, rural and northern communities; and

- Establish guidelines for community consultation and engagement.

5. Fair, Flexible & Community-Based Funding Guarantee:

- Recognize that funding needs are different in small, rural and northern communities; and

- Create guidelines for increased, fair and flexible funding based on community needs instead of per capita funding.

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