NORTH BAY, ON – The ripple effect of significant new cuts to hospital patient care and beds, including to mental health supports in North Bay, will be felt in Sudbury and other parts of north eastern Ontario, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
Last week North Bay Regional Health Centre announced the latest in a round of service and bed cuts, that the hospital says are needed to make up for a provincial funding shortfall of $30 million. The severe and ongoing service reductions include the closure of eight mental health beds.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the hospital division of CUPE in Ontario will hold a media conference in North Bay along with CUPE 139 leaders to discuss the impact of the most recent service and job cuts. At the media conference tomorrow – Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 11 a.m., at the CUPE National area office, 120 Lakeshore Drive, they will also announce a campaign to respond to the cuts.
The Liberal government’s hospital funding plan is punitive for low growth and rural communities like Sudbury and North Bay, says OCHU president, Michael Hurley, who will be speaking at tomorrow’s media conference. He says that in addition to low funding, under the province’s health service “integration” model there is also an erosion of mental health beds in the north east.
“People with mental health issues in crisis will have fewer options to turn to. Some will invariably wind up, cold and suffering, on the street,” says Hurley.
Following a round of service cuts and bed closures announced last May (2014), the North Bay hospital administration told media that: “The hospital’s mental health services operates in-patient beds in both North Bay and Sudbury… And…the proposed bed closures will have an impact in Sudbury, although the extent has not yet been determined.” (North Bay Nugget, Friday May 9, 2014)
A sea-saw process of closing, downsizing and transferring mental health and addiction services between Sudbury and North Bay by the Liberal government has been going on for over a decade when a provincial task force was appointed and mental health hospitals merged.
“There is no evidence that patients are better served by all these cuts and upheaval. We encourage the health minister to reconsider his government’s approach to continue to eliminate needed hospital services,” says Hurley.
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