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Patient Care Fading Amid Laboratory Closures

(April 19, 2011) Jim Wilson hammered away at the McGuinty government’s closure of medical laboratories across the province today.  The PC MPP for Simcoe-Grey revealed that since Dalton McGuinty came to office, close to 60 labs have closed across Ontario and a further 15 have reduced the services that they offer.

Wilson zeroed in on the affects that declining access is having on patients who rely on laboratory services.  “I’m hearing from physicians whose patients don’t have access to lab services anymore.  They can’t diagnose and treat their patients appropriately as a result,” he said in Question Period.

Laboratory services are provided by a small group of companies who control the market for clinical tests that help treat and monitor disease, such as glucose testing for diabetes.  In 2009-10, these firms received $640.9 million from taxpayers to provide access to lab services for all Ontarians.

In light of the diminishing access and levels of service, Wilson is urging the McGuinty government to review the system and bring in competition to ensure that Ontario’s patients and taxpayers get the services they need and value for their money.  The government’s contract with lab service providers expired on March 31.

The MPP has pursued the lab issue ever since he began receiving scores of complaints from constituents who had to endure long line-ups, extra costs for parking and up to $80 to travel for simple blood tests because their local lab was either closed or saw a reduction in services.  

In Wilson’s riding, the community of Elmvale lost its lab in 2010.  Service reductions have also occurred at the lab in Stayner.  Labs have also closed in Algoma, Dufferin, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Lanark, Lennox & Addington, Muskoka, Niagara, and Renfrew, just to name some of the 60 closures.

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