Democratic Public Hearings On Small, Rural and Northern Hospitals

Last Week of 12 Town Listening Tour with Expert Panel

TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - On Tuesday March 23rd, the Ontario Heath Coalition will begin its final week of a month long tour that began March 4th and has held hearings in Wallaceburg, Shelburne, Kincardine, Welland, Port Perry, Cobourg, Haliburton, and Burk's Falls. By the end of this week, the panel will have visited every region in Ontario.

The OHC has invited the public and local organizations to bring their concerns and recommendations about their local hospital services to a non-partisan panel, made up of well-respected experts. Panelists include:

    
    Dr. Claudette Chase, Sioux Lookout
    Hon. Roger Gallaway, retired MP, Lib. Sarnia Lambton
    France Gelinas, MPP, NDP Health Critic, Nickel Belt
    Dr. Tim Macdonald, Petrolia
    Natalie Mehra, Director, Ontario Health Coalition
    Barb Proctor, Ret'd RN, Picton
    Kay Tod, Ret'd RN, Burk's Falls
    

So far the Panel has collected over 300 submissions from the public, which will be used to form a report that will be delivered to the Minister of Health and the Premier. The final report will be released to the media across Ontario.

The public is invited to watch and participate in the hearings, and there will be spots available for those who have not booked presentations in advance. In order to book a spot to make a presentation (7 mins), please contact us as soon as possible and leave us your phone number(s), the town at which you would like to present, and any preferred times. Contact us at 416-441-2502 or email ohc@sympatico.ca.

For written submissions, please send them in by the date of the local hearing nearest you.

    
    Remaining Hearing Dates and Locations:
    --------------------------------------

    Winchester  Tuesday, March 23, 3 - 6:30 pm, Chesterville Community Hall,
    1 Mill St., Chesterville.
    Picton  Wednesday, March 24, 5 - 8:30 pm, Picton Arena, 375 Main St
    St. Joseph Island  Friday, March 26, 3 - 6:30 pm, Johnson Township Arena,
    1 Johnson Dr., Desbarats.
    New Liskeard Saturday, March 27, 1 - 4:30 pm, Quality Inn, 998009 Hwy 11.


    Background on Democratic Public Hearings for Small, Rural and Northern
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hospitals
    ---------
    

Hospital funding has failed to keep pace with inflation over the last two years. This has thrown the majority of Ontario's hospitals into deficits which they are required to eliminate by law, even if it means cutting needed services. Small and rural hospitals have been particularly hard hit. Entire floors have been closed. Emergency rooms have been shut down. Programs like physiotherapy, chiropody and labs have been privatized. Services like birthing and mammography have been closed. Ontarians are being forced to travel further and further away, without the transportation systems and supports to access hospital services.

The impact on patients includes longer waits as regional hospitals are swamped with more patients and inadequate resources, higher infection rates, new user fees for patients, loss of services, long waits. In some cases, entire hospitals are being closed down or threatened with closure.

In response to a major protest of more than 1000 people at the Ontario Legislature in April, the Minister of Health announced a Panel on Rural and Northern Health Care. It was understood that this panel would be an independent look at the crisis faced by small and rural hospitals. However, when the panel's mandate was finally released last fall, it did not even include the word "hospital" and made no mention of the crisis our local hospitals are facing. It is no longer clear what the panel is going to do. There are no public consultations until after the panel has finished its work. The panel has refused to meet with any patient's groups, municipal groups, community groups, the health coalition, unions and other key stakeholders.

In response, the OHC has formed a non-partisan panel to hear from Ontarians in 12 regional public hearings. The coalition will create a report from the hearings to be released to the media, brought into the legislature, and given to the Minister of Health and the Premier.

SOURCE Ontario Health Coalition

For further information: For further information: Natalie Mehra, (416) 441-2502 (office) or (416) 230-6402 (cell); Hon.Roger Gallaway, (519) 332-4575; Dr. Claudette Chase, (807) 737-9720; France Gelinas, (416) 325-9203; Dr. Tim Macdonald, (519) 882-0149; Barb Proctor, (613) 476-4097; Kay Tod, (705) 382-1074

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Ontario Health Coalition

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