“I have heard from constituents in my (Niagara, Ontario) riding that the closure (of the Hamilton Forensics Pathology Unit) will have a devastating impact on families dealing with the loss of a loved one who require an autopsy.” – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch
And the Ontario Ford Government’s Cutting and Gutting of Vital Health Services for Niagara and Rest of Province Just Keep Coming, and Coming, and Coming
An Open Letter to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch
Posted August 6th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
I am writing to request that your Ministry conduct a review into the planned closure next year of the Hamilton Forensics Pathology Unit. I have heard from constituents in my riding that the unit’s closure will have a devastating impact on families dealing with the loss of a loved one who require an autopsy.
Rick Westlake, Funeral Director of the Bocchinfuso Funeral Home in Thorold, recently contacted my office to express concern regarding how the closure of the Forensics Pathology Unit will result in distressing delays in autopsy results for families already undergoing significant emotional distress.
The anticipated closure will extend the current wait for autopsy results in Hamilton from one to two days to five to seven days – a change that will affect all of Niagara. In regions like Niagara, families required to identify a loved one’s body will have to deal with an additional hour of travel time to Toronto.
The decision to close the unit appears to have been made hastily, without consideration for the adverse financial and emotional impacts to families. Further, this decision flies in the face of the province’s own strategic plan for death investigations, which contains a commitment to serve local and regional services wherever possible.
There has also been a surge in opioid deaths across the region that Hamilton Forensic Staff have been struggling to handle. Shifting all this work to Toronto is simply not the answer.
Niagara Regional Police have also gone on record voicing concerns over this closure. In a statement, Deputy Chief of Operations Brett Flynn stated that the service has done an initial analysis and expects the closure will cause them an increase in overtime and fuel costs.
For the sake of family members grieving the loss of loved ones, we urge you to stop this move and undertake a comprehensive review of the closure of the Forensic Pathology Unit in Hamilton.
I look forward to your response.
Sincerely, Jeff Burch, MPP (the Ontario NDP representative for the Riding of Niagara Centre
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