Public Values

McGuinty government wiping out elected hospital boards

Ontario Health Coalition gets no answers from Ministry as to reasons.

Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health CoalitionTORONTO, October 29, 2008 — 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.

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
For more information: Ontario Health Coalition 416-441-2502 or 416-230-6402 (cell).

Links and sources
  Ontario Health Coalition website

Posted: November 05, 2008

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