TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 6, 2017) -

Attn: Assignment Editor

The Ontario Health Coalition wants to collect stories from patients, families, and hospital staff, and organize them to generate a democratic public debate about the changes we need to protect and improve our local public hospital services. The Coalition has spent the last decade fighting hospital cuts and privatization of services, and working with local groups to save local hospitals from closure. These changes to our hospitals have been foisted upon Ontarians without any democratic input. They do not reflect the values and priorities of our communities.

Every day, health coalitions across Ontario are contacted by people who have stories and ideas to share about their hospitals. The stories run the gamut from life-affirming to heart-breaking. People have received excellent and life-saving care. Patients have been stuck on stretchers in hallways, sunrooms, patient lounges for days waiting for a bed. Frail elderly patients have been pushed out of hospital too quickly, ending up back in Emergency Departments. Paramedics have been frustrated waiting for hours to offload their patients into overcrowded hospitals. People have tried to access health records and been refused key information, or, conversely, hospitals have communicated well and are responsive to their communities. Public hospitals have innovated to reduce waits, or instituted programs that integrate care so it is seamless and well-organized. Nurses and care staff are working with crushing workloads. Doctors are seeing their services taking second place to bean-counting, or are concerned about vital care being moved out of town.

The Ontario Health Coalition wants to hear it all: Ontarians' stories and ideas, health professionals and care workers' perspectives, experiences good and bad, and improvements that could be spread across the province. The goal is to come up with a platform of 'progressive reform' that the Health Coalition will use leading into the provincial election planned for next spring to address the urgent issues of undercapacity, cuts, privatization and overcrowding. Ontario has had the worst hospital cuts in the country: we have the lowest hospital funding levels, the fewest hospital beds per population, the least nursing care per patient, and we have seen massive cuts to clinics and outpatient services as well. The Coalition's goal to call for improved funding, but also the changes needed to make sure that funding actually goes to improving care levels and access for patients. In addition, we want to celebrate the positives: to recognize the tremendous job that our hospital system does with so few resources in providing high-quality care for Ontarians and to highlight positive innovations within the public health care system.

Coalition spokespeople are available to do pre-hearing interviews to invite the public to the hearings and talk about what is happening in our local public hospitals, what we are trying to do, and the key issues leading into the election. The media is invited to attend the hearings also.

Hearing Dates and Locations:

Thunder Bay Thursday, October 12, 3 - 7 pm. Italian Cultural Centre 132 Algoma St. S.
Welland Saturday, October 14, 10 - 11:30 a.m. Welland Community Wellness Complex, 145 Lincoln St.
St. Catharines Saturday, October 14, 1 - 2:30 p.m. Public Library, Mills Room, 54 Church St.
Ottawa Monday, October 16, 3 - 7 p.m. PSAC Building, 233 Gilmour St.
Trenton Tuesday, October 17, 3 - 7 p.m. Public Library, 7 Creswell Dr.
Toronto Wednesday, October 18, 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. OSSCO 333 Wilson Ave., Ste 406.
Scarborough Wednesday, October 18, 3 - 6:30 p.m. Bendale Public Library, 1515 Danforth Rd.
Chatham Thursday, October 19, 3 - 5 p.m. St. Clair College, Thames Campus Arena Blue Line Rm, 1001 Grand Ave. W.
Wallaceburg Thursday, October 19, 6 - 8 p.m. Legion, 52 Margaret Ave.
North Bay Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Royal Canadian Legion, 150 First Avenue W.
Woodstock Saturday, October 21, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Southside Aquatic Centre, 315 Finkle St.
Hamilton Monday, October 23, 5 - 8 p.m. YWCA Auditorium, 75 McNab St. S.
London Tuesday, October 24, 3 - 7 p.m. Central Public Library, Hunt Rm, 251 Dundas St.
Windsor Wednesday, October 25, 3 - 7 p.m. Central Public Library, Fred- Israel Room, 850 Ouellette Ave.
Durham/Ajax Thursday, October 26, 3 - 7 p.m. Ajax Community Centre, North Hall, 75 Centennial Rd.

Contact Information:

Natalie Mehra, Executive Director
(mobile) 416-230-6402 or (office) 416-441-2502

Edgar Godoy, Campaign Director
(mobile) 647-710-2561 or (office) 416-441-2502