Ontario Health Coalition and hospital unions are concerned about the closure of 31 addiction treatment beds in North Bay, in favour of a community services-only model.
Natalie Mehra, executive director for Ontario Health Coalition, is back in the northern Ontario city with a familiar message: "Don’t close addiction treatment beds."
Mehra said she has reviewed all of the documents from a recent meeting held by local organizations about the city’s mental health issues and says there is no evidence to support the closing of the city's hospital-based addiction treatment beds.
Of the 31 beds being closed at the North Bay Regional Health Centre, 29 of them are residential treatment beds and two crisis/safe beds.
"The bottom line is there is a cut to 29 residential treatment beds, for which there’s a waitlist," Mehra said.
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president Michael Hurley is also concerned, saying the process to close the beds lacked transparency.
"There was no transparent process for the community and all of the stakeholders, including the media, to participate in," said Hurly. "Including the people that use the services, people with addictions. There was no single and open process to do that."
NDP Health Care Critic France Gelinas says she is all for more services in the community but says it shouldn’t come at the expense of closing addiction treatment beds in hospitals.
"We deserve to have the community sector and the hospital sector. We deserve the full spectrum of care. Not having to choose between one or the other," said Gelinas.
However, Vic Fedeli continues to defend his party’s decision, saying it came after plenty of consultation.
"Twenty-nine of all of the mental health and addictions groups got together. They decided what is best for people suffering from mental health and addictions. They’ve put this package together. This is the design they have. They’re the experts and I absolutely trust the plan that they have put together," said Fedeli. "We do not need anyone from Toronto or Sudbury coming to the city of North Bay and tell us how we should be running healthcare."
Fedeli says the plan is to provide a full suite of services to people suffering from mental health and addictions. He says it will be an improvement over just one particular service that they’re getting at the hospital now.