There was music, there was enthusiasm and there was outrage.
Those are some of the key emotions as unions from across the province gathered at Lee Park today for the “Take Back Our Hospital” demonstration.
“This is amazing, I know from CUPE itself we have three buses that have come from all over the place, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, amazing turnout and you can see people from the community itself so this is huge,” said Shawn Shank, CUPE local 139 president.
The huge rally is in support for the North Bay Regional Health Centre, where more than 150 jobs have been cut this fall.
“We are hoping this goes back to Queen’s Park and the Liberals finally give us the money we need to keep our beds open so that our people can get the service they deserve,” said Shank.
OPSEU local 5861 President Michel Bisaillon believes this issue transcends every other message in our community.
“Often times we hear political and labour leaders say we need to bring more industry and better jobs to North Bay, how can we do that if we can’t provide a facility that gives us quality health care, I mean that’s impossible so let’s get with it, let’s fight back, let’s send a message to the province that enough is enough,” he said.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli today asked the Wynne government to address the serious funding crisis at North Bay Regional Health Centre around the same time the rally took place in North Bay protesting recent jobs cuts at the hospital.
“Health care professionals and patients alike in my riding are concerned that the quality of care we’re getting in Nipissing is in jeopardy. And it’s creating turmoil in the community,” Fedeli said.
“Will the Deputy Premier commit to restoring proper ongoing funding to the North Bay hospital?”
Fedeli says despite his outcry in Queen’s Park, the government refused to address the current funding situation.
The Ontario Health Coalition has pointed out that the hospital was initially designed to hold 284 beds at a cost of $95 million, however, the hospital opened as a 188 bed hospital costing $146 million.
“Since the new hospital opened, provincial funding has not kept pace with the actual costs to deliver patient care,” stated Ontario Health Coalition President Michael Hurley in a release.