Closure of Hospital Services in Fort Erie

"A Low Day for the McGuinty Government"
Three Arrested, Including Doctor, for Protesting Closure of Hospital Services in Fort Erie

Having heard that movers were coming in to take away the Operating Room equipment from Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, the community joined together in protest last night. This is the first step in the Niagara Health System plan - supported by the McGuinty government - to close down the local hospital. Fort Erie’s is the first of a slew of planned small and rural hospital closures if the McGuinty government is not stopped. About 150 local residents gathered on just a few hours notice to sing hymns, light candles and express their anger at the Niagara Health System and the McGuinty government.  One resident set up a large paper hospital “H” on the side of the road in front of the hospital. It was set on fire. After putting it out, the first man was arrested.  Shortly thereafter two additional local residents were arrested, including a local doctor.
“This hospital was built in 1931,” noted Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition speaking at the protest. “The McGuinty government and the Niagara Health System came in here today and removed in an hour services that took almost 100 years to create in this community.”
“This is one of the lowest days in the McGuinty government’s tenure in office. McGuinty is completely out of touch with the values and priorities of Ontarians in small and rural communities, and indeed in larger communities all across Ontario. Overwhelmingly Ontarians value our local hospitals as a top priority.”
The movers were supposed to arrive around 9 pm, but instead arrived at the hospital around 4 pm, finishing before the protesters gathered.  The mayor described the scene in the hospital where, after the final surgery, movers reportedly hastily carted away the OR equipment. Since the Niagara Health System did nothing to thank nurses and staff for their work at Douglas Memorial, the Town of Fort Erie gave them roses. Local Liberal MPP Kim Craitor attended the protest and told community members that if he loses his seat in government over this issue, “so be it”. He told the crowd that he had told his government’s caucus that the cuts would result in longer worse access for patients.
“Today’s events lay bare the fraud of McGuinty’ s hospital restructuring claims for all to see,” noted Mehra. “Despite claims by McGuinty, consultants, the LHIN and NHS executives, there is no “Centre for Excellence” happening here. They are misusing this term to cover up for small and rural hospital closures and dramatic reductions in hospital services. In Niagara surgeons will now compete for less operating room space and patients will have to travel further and wait longer for surgery as a result.”
“We have to take the experience of today and use it to deepen our resolve. These are human decisions made by human beings and of course they can be changed.”

“Next on the chopping block are the Emergency Room in Port Colborne and the inpatient beds in Wallaceburg, slated to close in July.  Quinte West and Picton, Mount Forest and Palmerston, Strathroy, Kincardine,  Guelph, Cambridge, Leamington, St. Joseph Island, and communities under threat all across Ontario are watching what is happening here. And they will come back to Fort Erie to try and close down the Emergency Room in September. This is just the beginning of an escalated fight to save our local hospitals. Ontarians everywhere know this to be wrong – and if we keep fighting, we will eventually turn this around,” concluded Mehra, applauding the community of Fort Erie for its leadership in the fight-back.

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 305
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8