HAMILTON, ONTARIO and NIAGARA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 21, 2015) -

Attn: Assignment Editor

Hamilton and Niagara's local public hospital and home care services are at serious risk from cuts, closures and privatization. In Hamilton, many hospital services have been slashed and closed in recent years because of budget cuts, including the cancer lodge, fertility clinic, Breathworks Program for patients with lung disease, and an entire emergency department closed to adults. More than 150 nurses, health professionals and support staff have been cut, reducing staff available for patient care. Fees for patients have increased, like parking fees.

Niagara's hospitals have suffered some of the worst cuts in Ontario - at least 100 beds have been cut across the region while patients wait on stretchers in hallways for hospital beds. Emergency rooms are overflowing and ambulance are unable to offload. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, all the beds have been cut, in Port Colborne and Fort Erie, all surgeries and acute care services have been cut and 2 ERs have been closed. The birthing units in Welland and Niagara Falls have been closed and at the new St. Catharines hospital site, there are far fewer beds than planned.

After years of devastating cuts, more are planned. In Hamilton, the proposed new cuts include 116,000 hours of hands-on nursing care per year, the privatization of food services at Hamilton Health Sciences, the privatization of transportation services for psychiatric patients at St. Joseph's Healthcare, and a whopping $25 million more in cuts at HHS and $20 million in cuts at St. Joe's. In Niagara, five entire community hospitals are facing complete closure. This Friday, residents from Hamilton, Niagara and the entire region will bring a message to Ontario's government that Ontarians cannot take any more hospital cuts, and hospital and home care privatization must be stopped.

Visual: Hundreds of balloons will be signed with messages directed at Ministers Ted McMeekin and Jim Bradley and the Liberal government. There will be hundreds in attendance with banners, signs and noisemakers. There will be a parade of cuts, where all the hospital cuts will be displayed visually in a procession.

What: Hamilton/Niagara Region Day of Action

When & Where: Friday, May 22

10 a.m., Rally @ Minister Ted McMeekin's constituency office - 299 Dundas Street East, Waterdown

12 p.m., Rally @ Minister Jim Bradley's constituency office - 2 Secord Drive, Unit 2, St. Catharines

Contact Information:

Ontario Health Coalition
Natalie Mehra
Executive Director
416-230-6402 (cell)

Hamilton Health Coalition
Rolf Gerstenberger
289-260-9547 (cell)

Niagara Health Coalition
Sue Hotte
905-932-1646 (cell)