Rural MPPs utilize rural hospitals
As the McGuinty government continues its investments to protect and preserve rural and small hospitals, area MPPs Maria Van Bommel and Pat Hoy say they will continue to go to bat for local health care with a new panel established by the Province.
“Ontario is establishing a Rural and Northern Health Care Panel to provide recommendations to the government on how to coordinate delivery of health care services to northern and rural areas,” said Van Bommel, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. “The panel will consist of stakeholders and health care professionals who can draw on their experiences working in rural and northern areas of Ontario.”
“Our government believes the residents of rural areas deserve access to the best health care possible. Since they are faced with unique health care realities different from people living in urban centres, a planning framework will be developed to make sure their health care needs are being met,” said Hoy, MPP for Chatham Kent-Essex. “This is something Maria and I have been pushing for and am glad it will be a reality.”
Hoy pointed out “it was the McGuinty government that changed the funding formula to provide equitable funding among hospitals within their peer groups (small, specialty, medium/community and large/academic) that recognizes the role each plays. There is also special funding for smaller hospitals.”
Van Bommel, a former chair of the Strathroy-Middlesex General Hospital Board said “any debate that is framed by the notion that we have somehow left hospitals hung out to dry is ludicrous. We have not.
The Tories cut hospital funding by $557 million over two years. The NDP cut funding by $267 million in just one year. That is hanging you out to dry.”
Both rural MPPs pointed to local hospital funding being increased from 2003-04 to 2008-09:
- 40.3 percent base funding increase to Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Chatham campus, plus extra $18,564,146 in “one-time” annual funding from 2003-2009.
- 17.6 percent to Sydenham District Hospital, Wallaceburg, plus $2,279,678.
- 26.4 percent to Four Counties, Newbury, plus $1,560,375.
- 30.5 percent to Strathroy-Middlesex General Hospital, plus $9,652,279.
- 20.2 percent to Leamington District Memorial Hospital, plus $3,019,545.
The new panel will provide a report and recommendations to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Health Minister David Caplan in the Fall.
The panel will:
- Highlight current programs and services targeting northern and rural communities. This will include an assessment of many initiatives – by our stakeholder partners and the Local Health Integration Networks – that are already in place to address rural and northern health issues.
- Identify northern and rural Ontario’s unique health care challenges.These challenges include:
- The increased travel time required to access health care facilities.
- Recruiting and retaining qualified health care professionals.
- Providing timely emergency services to remote locations.
- Recommend steps the government can take to improve access to health care in rural and northern Ontario.
“Our government recognizes that rural and Northern communities face distinct health care challenges. I know this panel will help us improve access to quality health care in rural and northern Ontario. I look forward to seeing its recommendations,” said Health Minister Caplan.
Find out how Health Force Ontario
(www.healthforceontario.ca/Job/HfoRecruitmentandRelocation/ServicesforCommunities.aspx) can help your community find a physician. Hoy pointed out there is now a Health Force Ontario office in Chatham-Kent.