Video of protest, arrests at Ontario hospital raises questions
P3 approval, centralization based on deception, resident claims.
by Fiona McMurran
WELLAND, ONT., May 18, 2009 — Below is the link to the CHCH coverage of an incident that took place in the Town of Fort Erie on Thursday night, as a group of citizens and supporters held a vigil marking the beginning of the end of their small hospital, the Douglas Memorial. The good people of this town, led by the current Mayor and his two immediate predecessors, have fought a long and well-organized battle to preserve their hospital and its services.
The McGuinty government has been deaf to all appeals - hospital restructuring must go ahead, they insist. This restructuring model involves centralization of services at new P3 hospitals, closure of small and local hospitals, and out-sourcing of health care services, mostly to the private sector.
The plan for privatisation of health care for my own city, Welland, is being carried out by our Mayor and Council, with the support of the Niagara Regional Council and the Niagara Health System, a government-appointed body that reports directly to the government-appointed LHIN.
In 2007, Niagara Regional Council was deceived into indicating approval, through the allocation of property taxes, of the proposed St. Catharines Health Care Centre, a new hospital and cancer and cardiac catharitization centre, one of the many P3 hospital projects in Ontario.
Last summer, the other shoe dropped, when the Niagara Health System produced their Hospital Implementation Plan, which calls for the eventual closure of all the local hospitals within the NHS (the Douglas Memorial in Fort Erie, the Port Colborne Hospital, the Welland General Hospital, and the Greater Niagara General Hospital in Niagara Falls) and the relocation of all hospital services to the new P3 hospital, to be built in an inaccessible location of big box stores, in the northwest part of St. Catharines.
Centralization of services, in our case, is a misnomer, since the site for the new hospital is far from central to the region of Niagara. In effect, North Niagara has a new hospital, while South Niagara loses all its services. Niagara is not an amalgamated region, but an area of twelve separate municipalities, separated by agricultural lands, with no regional transit whatsoever.
It was the Town of Fort Erie, in conjunction with other Mayors of small and rural municipalities, who organized, along with the Ontario Health Coalition, the recent rally in Queen's Park to protest hospital restructuring. Premier McGuinty continues to maintain that there will be no hospital closures and no cuts to services. He is either entirely misinformed by his bureaucrats, or he is lying.
At any rate, I respectfully request that you consider bringing this issue of hospital restructuring to public attention. It is a major move towards the total dismantling of our public health system.