Rallies planned outside Port Colborne and Fort Erie urgent care centres protesting reduced hours

Port Colborne hospital

Two protest rallies are planned in south Niagara today as Niagara Health closes its urgent care centres in Port Colborne and Fort Erie during the overnight hours.

As of today, Urgent Care Centres in Fort Erie and Port Colborne will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

The Niagara Health Coalition says it is calling for the restoration of 24/7 hours at the facilities, saying residents of South Niagara face serious health risks because of Niagara Health's decisions to reduce hours .

The first rally will be held this morning at 10 a.m. in front of Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie.

Speakers include Mayor Wayne Redekop, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, Jennifer Dockstader from the Fort Erie Native Centre, and Natalie Mehra with the Ontario Health Coalition.

A second rally is planned for 12:30 p.m. outside the Port Colborne General Hospital.

Niagara Health says the changes are due to staffing shortages and will allow them to avoid any closures at the emergency departments in Welland, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.

Officials are reminding the public that if you have an emergency you should go straight to those hospitals or call 9-1-1.