John Robbins wrote in “Hospital plan here to stay, minister” (St. Catharines Standard, Jan.29, 2009):
“What's done is done. But there's more to come.
Ontario Health Minister David Caplan says the Niagara Health System's controversial plan to restructure hospital services across the region is here to stay.
But, said the minister, he's prepared to work to find solutions to "legitimate concerns" about how health care is delivered in Niagara and how patients access services here.
Caplan made his comments following a meeting Wednesday morning with a delegation of some of the most vocal critics of the NHS hospital improvement plan, including Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin and former mayors John Teal and Wayne Redekop.
"I would characterize the meeting, certainly as cordial," Caplan said in a telephone interview. "They were very blunt and put forward the views and concerns they have related to the NHS proposal and the (Local Health Integration Network's) adoption of the hospital improvement plan."
He was very clear with them that I was going to be supporting the decision of the LHIN, but that was only one step that I would entertain. Other constructive suggestions or other ways that we could improve services for all of the residents of (Niagara) region ... we would very much desire that they would be a partner in that endeavour."
Caplan's decision not to intervene to block or substantially alter the hospital improvement plan effectively means the NHS can move forward with detailed implementation planning, including laying the groundwork for closure of emergency departments in Fort Erie and Port Colborne and maternity and pediatric wards in Niagara Falls and Welland.
While he believes it's now time to move forward, Caplan said the hospital improvement plan is not an end in itself. Improving quality of care at Niagara hospitals, and making the six hospital sites function as a integrated delivery system, means looking at the the larger picture, he said.
"There's more to improving health care than one (plan)," said Caplan. "It's just a first step.... Wayne Redekop in particular talked about family physicians, talked about transportation issues. I said to him those are very legitimate concerns and ones that we can work on together to develop solutions that work for the people, not only of Fort Erie, but all of Niagara region."
Martin said his position after the meeting remains the same as it was before he went in to see the health minister. The town will continue to press the province to protect services at Douglas Memorial Hospital, he said.
"Minister Caplan has indicated his is supporting the decision of the LHIN, therefore without any intervention by anyone (the plan) will go forward and as planned," said Martin. "I believe, from my point of view, the next step will be to go directly to the premier (Dalton McGuinty)."
The Fort Erie delegation's meeting with Caplan was arranged by Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, who also attended the meeting to voice his concerns with certain aspects of the plan.
"I was disappointed," Craitor said Wednesday evening.
"I've been trying desperately to get across that why I'm supporting Fort Erie is not politics. I really sincerely believe we're not doing the right thing for the people of Fort Erie.
"I was hoping that we could put on hold for a period of time that part of the (hospital improvement plan) for Fort Erie to develop something that would be mutually acceptable to the people of Fort Erie and to the political leaders and to the medical professionals."
Craitor said he and Martin have agreed to meet with staff from the minister's office -- an offer extended by Caplan himself -- for further discussions.
"But Doug (Martin) made it very clear to me that there's a principle here and they're not deviating from their principle."
Niagara Falls Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni, chairwoman of an ad hoc city committee opposed to the plan, said she had been hoping Caplan would accept an invitation to come to city council to state his position on the hospital improvement plan. Up until Wednesday, the minister had been largely silent on the issue, preferring not to interfere with the public consultations on the plan that started in July or deliberations by the LHIN board. Such a visit by Caplan would likely be "redundant" now, said Ioannoni, given the minister's public remarks.
Ioannoni, a long-time Liberal supporter, said she feels disheartened by how the government has handled the issue.
"And the sad part is we have an MPP -- who's fighting for the residents -- (but) whose government has dumped him, basically."
She said her committee will continue to oppose the plan, although she couldn't say for certain what its next step will be.
"Maybe you have to go to McGuinty," Ioannoni said.
"Go to McGuinty"??!
It’s like these Liberal dimbulbs don’t get it - it’s time FOR McGUINTY 'TO GO' - along with his phony Liberal 'hospital plan'.
This 'hospital plan which is here to stay' consists of nothing more than cuts and underfunding, not only to the Niagara Health System, but also in the rest of Ontario.
Liberal MPP Kim Craitor is apparently 'disappointed'. . .really, by what? By his own failed Liberal party politics, by his own Liberal health-care duplicity?
If Kim Craitor really wants us to seriously believe that his concerns somehow aren't political (yeah, sure!) then what Craitor should do is resign from McGuinty's Liberal government and sit as an independent MPP at Queen's Park. At this point in his political career, Craitor has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by becoming a true thorn in the side of the McGuinty health-care statists. That would gain him and his cause immeasurable respect, to the chagrin of the smug, irresponsive McGuinty Liberals who have "dumped him".
Being Liberal sure worked out well (as in egg-in-the-face) for Port Colborne’s mayor Vance Badawey, too, didn’t it?
And now, Ioannoni feels “disheartened” by her own smug party’s Liberal health care duplicity. Really?!!
These Grits wanted demagogic monopoly state-run health-care, well now, that’s what they got – fittingly, they are now themselves victimized by their own Liberal bait-and-switch health-care policies. Who are they going to complain to?? Their own Liberal Health Minister David Caplan couldn’t give a shit about Fort Erie, even to his own deluded-Liberal political stalwarts; the Liberals care even less about the concerns of citizens.
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s monopoly health-care machine is running un-checked and out of control. Liberals continue to cut health-care throughout Ontario . . .
[Example - Niagara Falls Review, Feb.4, 2009: “The Niagara Health System is shedding jobs, trimming expenses and searching for new revenue in an attempt to wash the red ink out of the balance sheet. In a first round of budget cuts announced Tuesday, officials at the cash-strapped hospital corporation announced up to 90 positions – 50 nursing and 40 clerical and clinical support jobs – will be impacted, as the NHS slashes spending by $8 million.”
Hamilton Spectator, Feb.3, 2009: “St. Joseph's Healthcare plans to lay off the equivalent of about 15 full-time workers as it struggles to eliminate a $12-million deficit. The cuts come as part of a cost-savings plan announced yesterday that also includes such measures as curbing sick time and overtime pay.”]
. . . while still pretending, after five years at the helm of a majority government, that it’s somehow Mike Harris’s fault!
St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, health-care monopolist and staunch supporter of Liberal health-care cuts, is, once again, conspicuously missing from news reports when Liberals are called to give their reactions and responses. Did the Niagara Falls Review even bother to call Good Ole Jim Bradley to request his comments? After all, he is only a McGuinty cabinet minister, the only one in Niagara. Is Bradley disheartened? There are practically no news reports from the St. Catharines Standard either, about Bradley’s reaction to his own government’s health-care cuts, or his response to his fellow Liberal’s concerns.
That Bradley’s ideologically-retarded Liberals are purposefully cutting health-care within their failing government-run monopoly, while also making it illegal for Ontarians to obtain their health-care privately, should be seen as a criminal act.
There ought to be some Liberals here in Niagara, neighbours to Jim Bradley, who are now on the cusp of an epiphany, of finally seeing their own party’s sickening Liberal Healthcare Duplicity.