The Friendly City has had enough of provincially mandated cuts to health care services.
Coun. Pat Culhane put forth a motion at Monday’s council meeting asking the city to call upon the Ontario government to halt the closures of, mergers of, and cuts to local health care services, including Public Health Units, land ambulance services, hospitals and long-term care homes.
Involved in nursing for more than 50 years, Culhane said, “public health care consistently ranks as the top priority in public opinion polls, provides vital health promotion and prevention services based on the unique demographic and economic, social, and cultural needs of our communities.”
“The evidence from hospital amalgamation in Ontario and across Canada is that they have cost billions of dollars and have not yielded the promised administrative savings but have taken money away from frontline care,”she said. “There is no evidence to support the proposed closure of 25 out of 35 local Public Health Units, the closure of 12 of 22 local ambulance dispatch centres, and the closure of 49 out of 59 local ambulance services.
“There is a deep consensus among virtually all stakeholders that increasing acuity in our long-term care homes requires additional staff and resources, not cancellation of the two special funds and real dollar cuts to per diem funding of our long-term care homes. Our local hospitals have been downsized for an entire generation and cannot meet population needs while sustaining real dollar cuts to hospital global budgets,” Culhane said.
Coun. Sean Kelly, who sits on both the long-term care committee and is council’s representative on the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Board, thanked Culhane for bringing forth the motion.
“I was at a meeting in Toronto a month ago with Minister of Health Christine Elliott. The number the province was tossing around was 10 (health units), but she was fluctuating on that, she wasn’t sold on 10. But I can’t think of a better person to be helping us in our own backyard than Jim Pine (Hastings County CAO) working with the province, travelling across the province talking to individuals about health care, and that process has already started,” Kelly said. “It’s good to know that Mr. Pine is doing this and hopefully he remembers his roots and makes it happen.
“But as for long-term care I’m with Councillor Culhane on that issue, it’s almost embarrassing what’s been happening in nursing homes in Ontario and that has to be changed,”Kelly said.
“I’m concerned about the amalgamation of the health units and the number they are reducing to, and the ambulance services, since the number of calls EMS is getting is astronomical and every year it’s increasing,” said Coun. Garnet Thompson. “I realize they’re trying to save the Ontario taxpayers some money, but some of these options are pretty extreme.”
Coun. Chris Malette said he is well aware of the pitfalls local health care workers are enduring.
“I’ve seen firsthand over the last month in caring for a friend, and while I do not find any fault with the professionalism and the commitment of our frontline health care workers, they are, as anyone who has set foot in a hospital or a clinic lately understand, overrun and the resources don’t seem to be catching up.”
Malette requested the motion be forwarded to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, “fly it across our local MPP’s desk, the health minister’s desk, health units, Quinte Health Care board, and certainly get some widespread circulation to see if any other municipalities want to get behind this,” Malette said.
Culhane told council president of the Quinte Labour council Marg Bourgoin was also active in helping her prepare the motion.
Council approved Culhane’s motion and decided to forward it to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, local MPPs and Premier Doug Ford.