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Rally protests service cuts at Port Colborne urgent care centre

Posted: July 7, 2023

(July 5, 2023)

By: Sarah Ferguson, Port Colborn Leader

Ontario’s health care is currently in crisis mode and the situation won’t be solved by reducing the hours of service at Port Colborne and Fort Erie’s Urgent Care Centres (UCC).

That was the main message of a rally held at Niagara Health’s Port Colborne General site Wednesday (July 5).

It was also the first day changes to the UCC hours in both Port Colborne and Fort Erie. The two sites have both operated as 24/7 UCC since 2009 and effective July 5 will now only be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with new patients only being accepted until 8 p.m.

Dozens of people gathered outside 160 Sugarloaf St. early in the afternoon to listen to health care advocates including Sue Hotte, with the Niagara Health Coalition; Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch; Ward 1 Coun. Mark Bagu; and health care advocate Angie Desmarais speak on the issue.

It was the second of two rallies; the first was held earlier in the day at the UCC in Fort Erie.

To deal with a shortage of health-care workers, Niagara Health has said it is reducing urgent care hours in Port Colborne and Fort Erie to keep Niagara’s three emergency departments operating.

Burch was critical of the provincial government’s treatment of health care workers, and not receiving appropriate pay which he sees as why there are staffing shortages to begin with.

“The reason they can’t find staff is because the staff have been treated like crap,” Burch said to cheers from the crowd.

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