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South Niagara chapter prepares for Nov. 21 health care rally in Toronto

Council of Canadians chapter activist Terry Nicholls. Photo by Greg Furminger/ Welland Tribune.

Council of Canadians chapter activist Terry Nicholls. Photo by Greg Furminger/ Welland Tribune.

The South Niagara chapter of the Council of Canadians is preparing for a major rally in Toronto on Friday November 21 that will call on the Ontario government to stop private clinics and save local hospitals. It is expected that 10,000 people will gather for this protest.

The Welland Tribune reports, “Terry Nicholls, secretary of the local branch of the Council of Canadians, is stressing the importance of fighting for the preservation of Welland hospital. He is pictured at Welland Farmers’ Market Saturday, where a sign up sheet was available for people wanting to take part in Friday’s bus trip to Queen’s Park, where thousands of people from across Ontario while be demonstrating in support of hospital services.”

The chapter is working with the Niagara Health Coalition to save the Welland Hospital, which has a catchment area of about 100,000 people. The Niagara Health System has put the licenses for the 75 long-term-care beds and 40 interim-care bed at the hospital out for bids. The hospital also provides ambulatory clinics, a Diabetes Education Centre, an emergency department, an Ontario Breast Screening Clinic, outpatient mental health services and a satellite dialysis centre among other services. If the hospital is shut down, it would mean people would need to travel to a bigger hospital in Niagara Falls.

Natalie Mehra, the coordinator of the Ontario Health Coalition, warns, “Ontario’s government is forging ahead with the most aggressive plan ever to strip local community hospitals of services and cut or privatize them. If we do not take action now, it is no exaggeration to warn that community hospitals as we know them will be totally dismantled. …The Ontario government is already systematically closing down outpatient services: physiotherapy, labs, pain clinics, fertility clinics and so on. Their written plan is to close all outpatient services. They will go to private clinics. They now plan to cut as many surgeries and diagnostic tests from local public hospitals as possible, and contract them out to private clinics.”

The Welland Tribune adds, “Nicholls called the trip ‘Action 1’ of the Save Welland Hospital campaign. ‘It’s just insane that we won’t have a hospital here’, he said. …If needed, a second bus will be chartered to leave from the market square at 9 a.m. on the day of the Toronto rally. The Welland trip has financial support from Nicholl’s’ council plus Niagara Regional Labour Council, Ontario Health Coalition and Niagara Health Coalition. In a sea of other demonstrators, Nicholls said he hopes that everyone representing Welland Friday will have brought placards with them that show support and need for the Rose City hospital. He said residents need to be more involved. ‘I think people have lost confidence in political leadership, which is why this has to be a citizen movement.'”

Among the fourteen communities organizing buses for the rally in Toronto is Peterborough, with the contact person for that bus Council of Canadians Peterborough chapter activist Roy Brady. Toronto-based Council of Canadians health care campaigner Mike Butler will also be at Friday’s rally.

For more information on the November 21 protest, please click here.

Further reading
South Niagara chapter campaigns to keep Welland hospital open (November 5 blog)