“Has the Ontario government made a policy decision behind-the-scenes to close birthing and women’s health services in small and even medium-sized towns everywhere?”, asked Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition.
Toronto (6 March 2015) — A group of pregnant women, mothers, midwives and community members traveled to Queen’s Park to raise the alarm about the proposed closure of birthing, maternity and maternal-newborn care at the Leamington Hospital. The closure would mean that women would have to travel to Windsor, more than an hour away, to deliver their babies at the nearest hospital with an OB unit.
Rural communities lack obstetrics services
According to Sandra Dick, an expectant mother, “Our rural community’s access to safe birthing is in jeopardy. We deserve to keep our obstetrics services just as those in urban centres do. Our expecting mothers should not be put in the frightening position of driving more than an hour while anxious and in pain, and our babies’ lives should not be put at this unnecessary risk.”
Proposal presented to Ministry to protect services
A group of midwives, doctors, nurses and health professionals in Leamington submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care last summer that would protect local birthing and pre- and post-natal care while enhancing an integrated team-based approach. They gave this pro-active proposal to the Ministry four months before the plans to close the birthing unit at Leamington Hospital were announced. The community is still hoping for a positive response from the Ministry.
According to Jacqui Galy, a concerned local resident and business owner, “The fact that closing the Obstetrics unit is even being considered just shows one of the many ways in which rural women are being marginalized and not given the same access to care as urban women. Easily accessible health care services are vital for the growth of our community, from a health, safety and economic perspective. The future of our community depends on this.”
Plea to prevent the cuts issued for International Women's Day
Noting that this Sunday is International Women’s Day, the Ontario Health Coalition warned that it appears that birthing and other women’s health services are being systematically closed or cut, particularly in rural and smaller towns, but also in medium-sized cities.
“Has the Ontario government made a policy decision behind-the-scenes to close birthing and women’s health services in small and even medium-sized towns everywhere?”, asked Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “The public has never been consulted and nor has the Legislature. If they were it would be obvious that the overwhelming majority of Ontarians see birthing as a vital service, and oppose slashing it. We are appealing to all the MPPs – these cuts must be stopped.”
The Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of Local Health Coalitions and individual members. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is a supporter of the Ontario Health Coalition. Its other members include: seniors’ groups; patients’ organizations; unions; nurses and health professionals’ organizations; physicians and physician organizations that support the public health system; non-profit community agencies; student groups; ethnic and cultural organizations; residents’ and family councils; retirees; poverty and equality-seeking groups; women’s organizations, and others.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE