McGuinty government wiping out elected hospital boards: Ontario Health Coalition warns

    TORONTO, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - In a press conference at Queen's Park today, the
Ontario Health Coalition revealed that the McGuinty government is eradicating
elected hospital boards in several communities across the province and warned
that more may be at risk.
    Currently, government-appointed hospital supervisors in three communities
are attempting to wipe out elected hospital boards and voting rights for
community members in Alliston, Midland-Penetanguishene and Scarborough. The
Hospital Supervisors that have taken over hospitals in these towns are
appointed by Cabinet and are given their mandates by Cabinet. They answer to
the Minister of Health.
    The coalition also recently discovered that the McGuinty government was
behind a move several years ago to eradicate voting memberships in Toronto
Women's College Hospital. Coalition spokespeople warned that democratically
elected hospital boards could be at risk across the province.
    "The move to wipe out citizen's voting rights in our local hospital
boards is about reducing community control over the hospital boards," stated
Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "It gives much more
power to hospital CEOs without proper checks and balances. It is undemocratic
and reduces public accountability."
    "The McGuinty government appears to have secretly embraced a policy of
eradicating elected hospital boards. On a very concrete level, this means
taking away a hundred-year history of elected boards in hospitals funded and
built by the communities. It means taking away thousands of community member's
voting rights in their local hospitals," she added. "The Minister of Health
will not answer any questions about how or when, or even if, this policy was
approved by the government."
    Spokespeople from the coalition and the communities impacted noted that
this is part of a bigger picture of hospital cuts and closures that is
sweeping across Ontario.
    "The McGuinty government is engaged in a major round of hospital cuts and
restructuring in which they are hiding behind government-appointed LHINs and
hospital supervisors who are implementing the cuts," said Vern Edwards co
chair of the Southern Georgian Bay Health Coalition. "Removing elected
hospital boards is part of a larger attempt to silence opposition to service
cuts. The message is that the government wants us to fund hospitals, but when
it comes to meaningful input or raising legitimate questions and concerns,
they want us to keep our mouths shut."
    "At a local level this struggle is about sound governance and access to
hospital services for the community," noted Gord Wilson, spokesperson for the
Citizens for Huronia District Hospital in Midland. "On a provincial level it
is about hospital service cutbacks that disproportionately will adversely
impact the elderly and persons on low incomes."
    "It is unacceptable that a government - every member of whom owes their
position and power to being elected - would take away fundamental voting
rights in our hospital boards," concluded Ms. Mehra.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Health Coalition, (416) 441-2502 or
(416) 230-6402 (cell)

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