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News Release

Consultation is needed before major healthcare changes,
petitions the Humber River Health Coalition

News conference at Queen's Park, April 25, 1:00 pm

April 23, 2007

On April 25 a petition, signed by over 5,500 residents from the catchment area of the Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH), is being presented to the Ontario Legislature asking for a review and open public discussion of the HRRH Board's decision to close and/or re-locate its hospital services.

"The HRRH Board and Administration are proposing significant changes to the health resources of our community without the consultation promised by the Government and the Board," say Garry Green & Rosanna Vidale, long standing community residents and Co-Chairs of the Humber River Health Coalition. The Coalition is a group of community residents and health professionals concerned about the lack of community involvement and consultation in the hospital's proposed re-development.

On Dec 19, 2005 the Government announced the commitment of greatly needed funding to improve health care in the northwest sector of the city. Community consultation was promised in that announcement. "No such process has taken place. Yet we have been given every indication that decisions have been made behind closed doors without any opportunity for the voice of the community." say Green & Vidale.

Recent studies find the neighbourhood communities serviced by the HRRH are among the most racially and culturally diverse of any in the GTA area. As well, there are significant challenges involving the broader issues of the determinants of health such as housing, single parent families, and socioeconomic considerations within the catchment area which encompasses populations with some of the highest health inequities of the GTA area. The area is divided by two separate Local Health Integration Networks, creating serious health care planning difficulties for the communities involved. Green & Vidale caution: "The proposed changes could significantly increase health inequities in our area by re-allocating needed resources from areas of higher need to those of lower ones. What we are requesting is citizen and community involvement in matters which directly affect the future and health of our families and community"

"There are other, more cost efficient options that will better respond to health care than the directions that the HRRH Board seems intent on pushing through. The downsizing and possible closure of the Finch site will not improve health services for the catchment area, nor will it result in more efficient distribution and use of services." says Rennie Terbogt, a long standing resident and community health professional. "No opportunity has been given to present these options in open public discussion, and decisions are being made over the top of our community by individuals who in large part seem unconcerned of the local realities"

"The problem in large part stems from the governance structure instituted by the Ministry of Health. It is one shared by a number of communities across the province" says John Balatinecz, another resident in the area for many years. "After actions by the Health Services Restructuring Commission in 1997, hospitals were directed to be self-governing. There were no checks and balances put in place to insure that the community would be represented or even involved in decision-making processes. The HRRH Board has become a closed, self-appointing body through its bylaws. Governance for a community should include responsibility to it."

For further information: on the Coalition's petition,
contact Garry Green at 416-635-0159, or Rosanna Vidale at 416-736-8270;

on the proposed downsizing of the Finch site
contact Rennie Terbogt at 416-710-4563;

and on Governance by Hospital Boards, transparency & accountability
contact John Balatinecz at 416-663-3240

Toronto, Ontario, , Canada         Tel:
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