Niagara Citizens Coalition Applauds MPP Gates’ Call For Answer On Status Of Niagara Falls Hospital

 Niagara Residents Deserve Answers For The Whole Region & On Privatization Plans

A Message from the Niagara Health Coalition, a citizens group advocating for quality public health care

Posted October 11th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

“The government cannot continue to pit community against community in a false competition that, in the end, would see not enough hospital services for anyone in Niagara.” – : Sue Hotte, chair, Niagara Health Coalition

(A Note from Niagara At Large – as of the posting of this article, we have yet to hear a status report from the Premier on plans for a new Niagara Falls hospital.)

Niagara Falls, Ontario – On Thursday, October 6th, in advance of (Ontario) Premier Kathleen Wynne’s visit to Niagara Falls(this October 11th), (Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates questioned the Health Minister in the Ontario Legislature on the slow pace of approval for a new hospital in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls MPP for Niagara Falls Riding and NDP rep Wayne Gates in provincial legislature

Niagara Falls MPP for Niagara Falls Riding and NDP rep Wayne Gates in provincial legislature

Gates advocated that local contractors be used in the construction. All this is good. There is no question that the Niagara Falls hospital is old and a new one is required.

Two years ago, the Niagara Health System submitted to the Ministry of Health a Phase I proposal to build a new hospital in Niagara Falls that has not yet been approved.

Unfortunately, here in Niagara, as is the case in Scarborough, Durham, Picton and other areas, the government has used a vague and distant promise of a new hospital in what appears to be an attempt to stifle dissent about closure of needed health care services and a dismantling of local governance.

In Niagara, the plan is to close down five entire hospitals and replace them with one. The closures have already started with the eradication of all overnight hospital services in Niagara Falls though the supposed replacement hospital has not even been approved at Phase

All of this political manoeuvering has occurred without any proper evidence-based planning nor any reasonable attempt to measure and meet population need for public hospital services.

“Niagara Falls needs a new hospital and we wholeheartedly support the call for the Wynne government to give clear answers on this,” said Sue Hotte, chair of the Niagara Health Coalition. “But Welland and the region need their hospital protected also. The government cannot continue to pit community against community in a false competition that, in the end, would see not enough hospital services for anyone in Niagara. It is not about one town winning and others losing. If there are not enough beds and services, everyone in the region loses.”

There is a second issue that must also be addressed. While the government may claim it cannot afford enough new hospitals to meet population need, it continues to pay a massive premium for private financing of new hospitals – euphemistically called P3s (public private partnerships).

The public cannot be told to tighten our belts endlessly while the financiers, consultants and construction companies in the P3 deals are raking in extraordinary returns. The P3 privatization has been justified on the supposed transfer of risk to the private sector but the St. Catharines’ hospital stands as an irrefutable example of how risk is not transferred.

A fading billboard sign where new Niagara Falls hospital is supposed to go

A fading billboard sign where new Niagara Falls hospital is supposed to go

That hospital was years late due to the implosion of the financial markets and financial troubles of Deutsche Bank, the scheme’s original financier, and faced exorbitant costs that kept going up through the negotiation of the P3 deal even as deadline after deadline was not met. At no point did the private sector bear real or meaningful transfer of “risk” for the cost overruns and delays.

“First the McGuinty and now the Wynne government have steamrolled through the closure of one entire hospital in Niagara and made draconian cuts to the remaining south Niagara hospitals. These are among the worst cuts in Ontario despite unsafe hospital overcrowding, high death rates, and clear evidence of population need.

As a result of the cuts, patients – most of them elderly – are transferred repeatedly from town to town, creating hardship for them and their families and communities,” noted Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“In the remaining time before the next election the political leaders and public in Niagara need to push as hard as possible to win a promise to protect the existing community hospitals in Niagara – both to protect their services and improve them, and to build new hospitals through public financing.”

The government has begun to move on the situation in Welland. But the new promise of an ambulatory care centre is not a community hospital — it does not have the same scope of services — and the 100,000 people served by the Welland hospital have the right to demand that their hospital remain open as a real community hospital and regain lost services.

The government must move forward with a new public hospital for Niagara Falls, not a privatized P3 hospital, and to develop a proper planning process to protect the smaller towns’ services across Niagara and across Ontario, particularly in amalgamated hospitals where the large site dominates.

The way to do this is through sound planning processes that measure population need and are be based on evidence. Empire-building and politics must be taken out of Ontario’s public hospital capital development process.

PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION Niagara At Large encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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3 responses to “Niagara Citizens Coalition Applauds MPP Gates’ Call For Answer On Status Of Niagara Falls Hospital

  1. If one digs deep enough into the Agenda of the Two Corporate Parties they just “MIGHT” find that both of these parties are steering this province down the slippery slope into total PRIVATIZATION.
    When one reads the conclusions put forth by the Ontario Provincial Government hired Consultant, Don Drummond Chief Economist with TD Canada Trust they might just realize that this is a CORPORATE agenda formulated by a so called Canadian Bank that NOW has more banking outlets in the U.S.of A. then in Canada (Over 1300 branches From Maine to Florida and growing……. also this does not include their financial involvements in commercial ventures in that country)
    The P3 investment in the Province of Ontario and actually throughout the entire country is indicative of the inroads made by the Canadian and International Corporate Juggernauts into the very lives and future of all Canadians..
    It is said in the scripture “Jesus Christ found the Churches (House of God) over run by Money Lenders and Jesus threw them out onto the Streets” …..So it seems they have found a home on Wall and Bay Streets.

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  2. The Niagara Health System made a presentation to the HNHB LHIN September Board Meeting. For Fort Erie NHS proposed a partnership between Douglas Memorial Hospital and Bridges Community Health. Why does the Niagara Health System promoting a move from the public health system to a private clinic _ Not For Profit Clinic? Why is funding for the hospital services not done through the Bank of Canada which is to provide loans to all levels of government at 0% interest?

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    • Well Bill, if done through the Bank of Canada, private interests don’t make big money via interest. I think that answers your question but I’m sure you already knew that. 😉

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