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Report to the community on medical lab closures

(Queen's Park Report - November 24, 2010) I want to provide an update on the ongoing struggle to reopen medical laboratories in Tottenham, Stayner and Elmvale.  Families who rely on these frontline health services know that these closures have led to deteriorating conditions at labs in Alliston, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Midland and Bolton.  Here's the latest update.

Over the past week I have been inundated with emails, letters and calls to my offices with stories about your experiences at local laboratories.  I have also been receiving tonnes of petitions.  I want to thank those who took the time to share their stories and mail or drop off petitions.  They have been very useful in illustrating the challenges we have all faced due to these cuts to frontline healthcare in our area.  Here is how I have used that information to date.

On Monday I visited the Hepburn Block at Queen's Park to meet with the Deputy Minister of Health along with his most senior staff and a representative of the Minister.  I provided them with a copy of each and every message I have received on this topic, and I will be sending an additional package to them later this week.

I think the ministry now understands the magnitude of the problem.  We talked about many of the issues that laboratory closures have caused - from paying for parking to long line-ups and limited privacy.  We also discussed the deficiency in the fact that these companies seem to be able to pick up and leave the community without public notice or consultation.  I anticipate a response from the ministry on those concerns in the near future.

Not only did I bring these issues to the attention of the ministry, I also rose again in the Ontario Legislature to inform Premier Dalton McGuinty in a public statement about these very same concerns.  You can watch a video of my remarks by visiting my website at www.jimwilsonmpp.com.

I have also been introducing the petitions I have been receiving regularly.  In fact, I've stood up in the Legislature seven different times on seven different days to introduce petitions on this issue.  Let there be no doubt that signing petitions works.  If you haven't already signed the petition, please visit my website or pick up a copy at my offices in Alliston or Collingwood, or give me a call and we'll mail them to you.  The more we can drive this issue home, the better.

I have already debated this with the Minister of Health in committee, I have a petition campaign going, I have met with the Deputy Minister of Health, presidents and vice-presidents of lab companies, and I've told Premier McGuinty in the House that the current situation is unacceptable.

If we have to hold rallies and mail petitions to every home, we will.  Leaving elderly people to stand outside in the cold waiting in line to get their blood checked, or forcing families to drive farther on rural winter roads to access necessary medical services is appalling.  It is worth the fight.


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