Residents rally at Queen's Park to keep 5 Niagara hospitals open

Niagara residents dedicated to keeping hospitals open in South Niagara brought their message to Queen's park today.

Welland NDP MPP Cindy Forster was joined by the Ontario Health Coalition and the Niagara Health Coalition to demand that Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals stop their plan to close five hospitals in the Niagara region.

The group brought more than 2,500 letters from community members urging the government to immediately stop the planned hospital shut-downs.

“The Liberal government has a proposal in place to close more hospitals in South Niagara – in Welland and Port Colborne – all based on a non-validated report issued in 2012 by Kevin Smith that experts describe as a report lacking ‘total evidence or reference,’” said Forster. “ The proposal was put forward without any formal consultation with families in my community. Should it move forward, the restructure will be unprecedented, putting tens of thousands at risk.”

The government’s current proposal is to close five community hospitals in the Niagara region, in Welland, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, and replace them with one hospital in Niagara Falls.

Forster says the Welland hospital, alone, provides health services for roughly 100,000 residents.
 
“We know that Niagara has one of the highest populations of seniors in the province – many of whom live on lower incomes. Worse, the region already has one of the lowest number of long-term care beds per population of seniors,” said Forster. “Studies show that with increased growth in the region as a result of more and more people drawn to the area, closing more hospitals in our community will have devastating impacts on already high capacity levels, putting families at enormous risk.”

Welland and South Niagara area residents concerned about the closure of their hospitals joined Forster to present Wynne with over 2,500 personal letters opposing the closure of their local hospitals.