The Ajax-Pickering community is rallying against the planned Dec. 14 closure of pediatric and obstetric services at the local hospital – the only such facility between Kingston and Toronto.
The changes are a foreshadowing of things to come under the local health boards (LHINs) planned by the Liberal government. The hospital simply failed to recruit and retain the professionals it needs. “The government is standing by while the Rouge Valley Health System makes thousands of women and children head west on the 401 to find services instead of Rouge Valley finding a handful of pediatricians to come the other way,” says Leah Casselman, OPSEU President. “There are no easy public transit links from Ajax or Pickering to Centenary. This is fast becoming a major crisis for this community.”
The Ajax-Pickering Hospital is a focal point of a growing community made up of young families. About one quarter of the population of Ajax and Pickering is children.
“The closure will have an enormous impact on the nurses who care for the pediatric and obstetrical patients,” adds Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. “Not only will they have to travel a further distance to their workplace, but they will have to assimilate into a different workplace culture. This move also flies in the face of what the Ministry of Health says it is doing for Ontarians by introducing LHINs – moving health care services further away from the communities that need them.”
Communities are likely to see more such closures under the McGuinty government’s health integration plan.
“Sadly, under the Liberal plan, this kind of service closure will be replicated in communities across the province,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE). “It forces people to hit the highway to get services that used to be available locally, like birthing and pediatrics.”
The Friends of the Ajax Pickering Hospital are holding a rally at the Ajax Community Centre this Wednesday night (Dec. 7) at 7 pm. The mayors of three affected municipalities – Pickering, Whitby and Ajax – will be among the speakers.
For more information, contact:
Sheree Bond, ONA 416-964 8833, ext 2430
David Cox, OPSEU 416-788-9197 (cell)
Stella Yeadon, CUPE; 416-578-8774