Groups from Chatham Kent and across Southwestern Ontario gathered on Thursday to build an event “that cannot be ignored.”
The Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, along with the Ontario Health Coalition, gathered on Thursday for a press conference in Chatham.
“Public health services save lives, prevent illness and injury, keep people out of hospitals,” stated Shirley Roebuck, who is a retired emergency department nurse and co-chair of the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, in a press release.
“No one, whether they are Liberal or Conservative or NDP, ever voted to see our local Public Health Unit closed down and our local ambulance service closed down and sent down the highway to London. We need to stand together and insist that the government hear our call to stop these closures and save these vital local health care services.”
The Health Coalition’s goal is to save the local Public Health Units and ambulance services from closure and protect their local governance.
The groups are also advocating to stop funding cuts to public health, local hospitals and long-term care homes.
Under the banner ‘Save the Services that Save Us’ the group is calling on the provincial government to halt their plans to close 25 out of 35 local Public Health Units and merge them down to 10; close 49 of 59 local ambulance/paramedic services and close 12 of 22 local ambulance/paramedic dispatch centres and merge them down to 10; eliminate two sets of funding for long-term care that result in a $34 million dollar cut to these services; and cut real-dollar funding for hospitals and long-term care.
The groups are planning a major event, filling the John D. Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham on Saturday November 2 at 11 a.m.
There will be music and speakers, hotdogs, hot chocolate and snacks.
The goal is to show a huge outpouring of support to save our local health care services and stop the cuts and closures, Health Coalition officials stated.
“There is no evidence to support the closure of local ambulance and dispatch services, nor the cuts to hospitals and long-term care,” stated Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, in a media release.
“Experience from other provinces is that this type of restructuring leads to longer waits, problems finding patients, and will likely take millions of dollars away from care.”
Mehra added: “We can win and save these services. There is virtually no support for the proposed cuts and closures anywhere. Already the Ford government is hearing the deep concerns of communities and is starting to roll back some of the cuts. If regular people from across the counties and in Chatham join in we can make a difference here, we are confident about that.”
The Coalition is asking for volunteers and donations for the November 2 event.
It will open a volunteer office downtown in Chatham and will ask people to take flyers door-to-door and into their workplaces and community groups.
People can volunteer by phoning Shirley Roebuck, co chair of the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition or by messaging her on Facebook at the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition page.