The union representing pathology staff is calling on the provincial government to conduct an independent review of the decision to close the department at Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation.
“An independent review of the decision to close the pathology service for Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant and Dufferin is needed after allegations that the decision makers may have acted in retaliation,” says Dave Murphy, president of CUPE Local 7800. “Without commenting on the merits of the allegations, the government needs to clearly establish that this decision was made for the right reasons. It can do this by taking a second look at the wisdom of closing this busy and valued program.”
Calling the decision to close the unit, which contradicts the strategic plan for Ontario’s Death Investigation System, “poorly thought out,” CUPE has joined police and medical personnel in expressing serious concerns about the impacts and significant delays in autopsies, investigations and trials.
The strategic plan for Ontario’s Death Investigation System dated 2015 to 2020 articulates the objective of: “Expanded and improved regional service delivery capacity with more cases being managed locally/regionally.”
“We dispute that closing the unit and moving its work to Toronto will save $3 million annually. It will shift the costs while causing significant and costly delays in police investigations and trials, which are unaccounted for,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU). “Accounting for the true costs of moving the service would show no economic basis for this decision.”
The Hamilton pathology unit does death investigations, including homicides, pediatric deaths and overdoses. There are three full-time forensic pathologists in addition to a team that includes recently hired autopsy technicians.