A Foreword by Doug Draper
Niagara At Large is posting in its entirety the following media release from the office of Ontario Conservative’s opposition leader, Tim Hudak, slamming Premier Dalton McGuinty for reductions in frontline care at hospitals in Niagara and Hamilton.
This latest Conservative blast at McGuinty, set off in the wake of concerns raised about hospital services in an Ontario Auditor General report released this December 6, makes no mention of other culpability of other parties around longer emergency room wait times and other reductions in front line services.
Most notably, there is no reference to the Niagara Health System, the amalgamated board that has been responsible for managing the majority of Niagara’s hospitals for the past decade.
It was the NHS that put together a so-called “hospital improvement plan” that, for example, called for the closing of emergency rooms at the hospitals in Fort Erie and Port Colborne? Could the NHS not have found ways of keeping those ERs open with the overall funding it has?
It was also the NHS that marched ahead with plans to build the only new full-service, state-of-the-art hospital for which Niagara is likely to get provincial funding for years to come at a west St. Catharines site in north Niagara. Would residents in south Niagara possibly be feeling less disenfranchised when it comes the NHS’s overall hospital plans if the board had decided to locate this new complex at a more central site in the region?
That is not to say McGuinty and his health minister should not be playing a more hands-on role in hospital services rather than delegate most or all of the decision making to un-elected boards.
In his media release, Hudak repeats his promise to get rid of the Local Health Integration Networks that have become another laywer of bureacracy between hospital boards and the provincial government. He also sas that a Conservative government would invest more in services that are important to Ontario citizens. But where would this money come from if it were going to hospitals? Would he transfer money from other government programs and if so, which ones?
It should also not be forgotten that when he was a member of a provincial Conservative government that was in power in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that government cut spending for frontline health care.
Below is the full text of Conservative leader’s media release. We encourage you to offer your views in the comment boxes at the end.
For Immediate Release December 6, 2010
McGuinty’s Legacy of Waste Hurting Hamilton and Niagara Families
NEWS: QUEEN’S PARK – Today, Ontario’s Auditor General revealed that Dalton McGuinty’s legacy of waste is forcing Hamilton and Niagara families to pay more and get less out of their frontline health care. For all that local families pay in taxes and fees, they continue to struggle with emergency room closures and longer wait times.
As part of his annual report, the Auditor General examined hospitals including the Hamilton General. He found that 50,000 patients province wide occupied hospital beds last year when they should have been receiving alternate levels of care. This logjam creates a strain on the emergency rooms and results in increased wait times for patients.
Worse still, Dalton McGuinty cut frontline healthcare services by closing emergency rooms in Fort Erie and Port Colborne, creating even more of a burden on Hamilton and Niagara area hospitals.
A Tim Hudak Ontario PC government will invest in the services that matter most to Ontario families. Hudak said he will eliminate Dalton McGuinty’s wasteful LHIN bureaucracies and invest in frontline health care first.
“For seven years, the Auditor has done his job – identifying the waste, scandal, and rot – yet Dalton McGuinty continues to fail to do his job. Instead, he is closing ER’s, cutting hospital beds and nursing jobs, and putting greater pressure on Hamilton and Niagara hospitals.” –Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak
“The Auditor General’s annual report revealed much of what we’ve come to expect from Dalton McGuinty, and confirmed the legacy of waste continues under his watch. It’s clear, the only way to bring about the change that Ontario families deserve is to change this government.” –Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak
· Dalton McGuinty has closed two Niagara emergency rooms: Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie and Port Colborne General Hospital.
· According to the Globe and Mail, “problems at Hamilton General (ER)… are said to flow from its status as a hub serving people from Burlington to Brantford and Niagara Falls to Guelph.” (Globe and Mail, December 6, 2010)
· “Overcrowding and delays in emergency rooms continue to be an issue often because hospitals have problems freeing up in-patient beds.” (AG, New Release, December 6, 2010)
· In 2005, the McGuinty Government promised to fund their share of the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and to start construction by 2009-10. In 2008, the McGuinty Government pushed back this date to 2010. The West Niagara community has raised over $13.5 million for the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital but have yet to see shovels in the ground.
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