The Ontario Health Coalition held a press conference at the Seniors Centre on Monday to announce an upcoming campaign to save local health care services. This campaign will take place in various places across Ontario, including an event at the George Leech Centre here in the Sault on Nov. 30, to save vital local health care services such as Public Health Units, paramedic & ambulance services, dispatch units, and long-term care homes.
“The Doug Ford government is planning to:
Cut Public Health funding & close 25 out of 35 local Public Health Units, reducing them to 10.
Close 49 out of 59 local ambulance services, reducing them to 10 & close 12 of 22 local dispatch centres.
Make real-dollar cuts to public hospital funding, even though we have the fewest hospital beds left per person of any province in Canada and a crisis of hospital overcrowding. More cuts mean more services & staff cuts, less services, longer waits, more privatization & higher death rates.
Make real-dollar cuts to long-term care homes, forcing municipalities to either raise taxes or cut services for elderly & chronic care residents,” a press release sent out by the coalition states.
This campaign will include efforts such as opening a local office, going door-to-door handing out informational leaflets, trying to raise local awareness about these cuts, Ontario Coalition Executive Director Natalie Mehra explained in a media scrum.
“(These cuts) are really very dramatic, particularly for the north,” she said.
“The Sault has been particularly troubled by long wait-times in the hospital, inadequate numbers of long-term care beds, the cuts are very real here, there’s a public health unit here, which is very likely to be one of the ones that’s eliminated,” Mehra continued, talking about why they’re holding this rally in the Sault and not somewhere such as Sudbury.
The OHC is trying to target putting pressure on Conservative MPP’s – such as local Ross Romano – and Mehra said the Sault was one of the four locations in Ontario (others include Chattam, Ottawa and Toronto) because the northern issues are “very unique.”
“Already, services have been very centralized across giant regions in the north, already people have much more severe access to healthcare issues than in Southern Ontario…this is where we can have a maximum political impact if we get hundreds of people out to this event,” she said.
Others in attendance included:
- Myra Piirtyoniemi and Jean Hershey, Algoma Family Council Coalition
- Morgan Fiaschetti, Algoma Coordinator of the Ontario Autism Coalition
- Pam Mancuso, regional vice president for the Ontario Nurses Association; and
- James Kemp, OPSEU member
“Our Public Health nurses are on the frontline of disease prevention and safety in our communities. Our hospitals in Northern Ontario are already suffering from overcrowding and cuts. Nurses are going to fight these cuts and we will not stop until they are stopped,” said Mancuso.
“Like they are doing with these health care services that they are planning to cut and eliminate, the Ford government continues with its elimination of need-based funding for autism, leaving thousands of children in need, Fiaschetti said.
“There is a crisis in under-staffing and inadequate care in our long-term care homes. There are hundreds of people leaving in Sault Ste. Marie for care,” said Hershey. “Instead of improving care, the Ford government is making real-dollar cuts to long-term care homes. This is unacceptable.”