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Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins orders hospital mergers in Scarborough

Posted: April 28, 2017

(October 19, 2016)

By: Mike Adler, Scarborough Mirror

Ontario’s health minister has directed hospitals within Scarborough and Durham Region to merge, and will hear public comments on his decision until mid-November.

Dr. Eric Hoskins’ order, announced Friday, Oct. 14, will break up the Rouge Valley Health System, merging its Centenary campus in Scarborough with The Scarborough Hospital to form a new hospital corporation there.

Rouge Valley’s other campus in Ajax will be absorbed into Oshawa’s Lakeridge Health in a reorganization now expected to be in effect no later than Dec. 1.

The province, however, has not offered money to cover the one-time cost of the mergers, leading some to worry the merged hospitals will be forced to make cuts in services.

Despite approvals this month from Hoskins and all three existing hospital boards, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) hope to get communities in both regions “up in arms” and stop the mergers through public pressure.

“We’ve put things on hold before,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in an interview Tuesday.

Forming a new hospital in Scarborough will cost $20 million, and adding RVHS Ajax-Pickering to Lakeridge requires $13 million; savings will be “minimal,” the hospitals have said.

Past mergers have resulted in cuts to frontline staff and services, Thomas said, arguing the hospitals should hold meetings with the public to answer merger questions.

“They’ve got to demonstrate that it makes sense and that it’s good for health care.”

The Ontario Health Coalition, hosting a forum on the mergers at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 22 in the Bendale Public Library on Danforth Road, is voicing similar arguments.

Hoskins’ order follows recommendations from an expert panel, which said the mergers were needed to plan for future hospital infrastructure projects in Scarborough.

The minister’s order means a vote of RVHS members to approve the mergers, required by Rouge Valley’s bylaws, is no longer needed. A planned meeting for this at the Centenary on Thursday, Oct. 20 will instead be an information session for members.

The order triggers 30 days of public consultation, ending on November 14. People can comment on the mergers by email at communityfeedback@ontario.ca.

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