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Candidates’ debate on health care Thursday in Grimsby

Posted: May 22, 2018

(May 22, 2018)

By: Grimsby Lincoln News

Candidates from the Niagara West Riding will be tackling the issue of health care Thursday night.

A special health-care debate will take place Thursday, May 24, from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Livingston Activity Centre, 18 Livingston Ave. in Grimsby. The event one of four that were organized across Niagara, is presented by the Niagara Health Coalition in partnership with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons Niagara, as well as local chapters of the Council of Canadians and Retired Teachers of Ontario.

“Niagara residents need to hear from all political parties about how they intend to deal with the very significant access to health care and hospital services in Niagara,” said Sue Hotte, Niagara Health Coalition co-chair.

During the event, the Green party, Liberal, New Democratic Party and Progressive Conservative candidates will address concerns about hospitals, access to health care, long-term care and home care. Candidates will answer prepared questions from the hosting groups and written questions from the audience.

Clarice West-Hobbs and Dorothy Prickett, representing RTO/ERO Niagara and CARP Niagara, are concerned that with an aging population, complex-care needs, and increased incidence of dementia, the need for safe and appropriate care in Ontario, and especially in Niagara, is growing, but with no co-ordinated plan to meet the requirements. Fiona McMurran said the Council of Canadians’ concern is that, with little to no public consultation, funding is being steadily diverted from the public health-care system to private for-profit clinics, P3 hospitals, private home care companies and private long-term care homes.

During a recent visit to Niagara to help organize the debates, Ontario Health Coalition board member Doug Allan said it will take more than fleeting election promises to resolve the crisis that is brewing in hospitals across Ontario.

As people contend with overcrowded hospital emergency departments and lengthy wait lists to access medical services, Allan said “there’s a much broader understanding of the crisis that it (decades of provincial underfunding) has created — and that’s a word the health coalition has not used in the past, but it is just becoming so difficult in so many ways.”

The provincial budget’s 4.6 per cent hike in health-care spending this year, Allan said, falls short of the 5.3 per cent increase in each of the next four years the health coalition estimates is needed to address that crisis.

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