Health care rally to take place in Chatham

Health Care Rally at Queen's Park Oct, 2018. Photo courtesy of Shirley Roebuck.

A rally to save local health services is set to take place at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre on Saturday, November 2.

The Chatham Kent Health Coalition (CKHC) is protesting proposed changes by the Ontario government to health services, like merging health units, and paramedic dispatch.

“What that means is that the governance and the administration of health services would be centralized to a larger centre, probably London,” said Shirley Roebuck, co-chair of the CKHC. “But we don’t think that that’s good for communities, and we don’t think that that’s good for our community.”

Roebuck says they will also talk about cuts to hospitals.

“Anyone that has been to emerg or to the hospital lately and been admitted, you know about wait times being so high. That is because of closed beds because of poor funding.”

Roebuck added that the rally is meant to tell elected officials that the proposed cuts are not good for the community.

“We’re not going to moan and groan and be so serious. We’re going to have music, we have refreshments, we have a few surprises, and we have guest speakers.”

Chatham-Kent Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls has responded to the healthcare rallies saying the health coalition is fear-mongering and their facts are wrong.

He said the health budget has increased and is reiterating the Ontario government’s commitment to working with local partners on modernizing public health and emergency health services.

“I want to be clear with all of my constituents that there are no ‘cuts’ taking place in terms of front line care being delivered,” said Nicholls. “This year has seen a 2% increase to the Health budget, including an additional $384 million dollars to hospitals, an average 4% increase for land ambulances, and a $10 billion dollar program for mental health over the next 10 years.”

Nicholls wants people to be aware that public health units received approximately $776 million from the province in 2019, including a funding increase of approximately $60 million (or 8.4%), to support public health programs and services.

“Our government is building a public health care system centered on the patient, redirecting money to front-line services,” he said. “We are making the changes necessary to build a modern, sustainable system that will improve access to care and emphasize a patient-centred approach.”

The current consultations between the Ontario government, municipalities, and local public health units will help inform the design and implementation of the government’s reforms to public health and emergency health services.

Key items include:

  • Better consistency and equity of service delivery across the province;
  • Improved clarity and alignment of roles and responsibilities between the province, Public Health Ontario and local public health;
  • Better and deeper relationships with primary care and the broader health care system to support the goal of ending hallway health care through improved health promotion and prevention;
  • Unlocking and promoting leading innovative practices and key strengths from across the province; and
  • Improved public health delivery and the sustainability of the system.

The work on modernizing public health units is part of a broader reform of the health sector being undertaken by the Ontario Government. Public health and emergency health services are being updated to be better connected with local communities. Several layers of bureaucracy are being streamlined in favour of front line care that coordinates all local health services for a patient’s needs.

The rally will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.