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Benns’ Belief: Time for change at Lindsay’s LifeLabs fiasco

in Opinion by

Since we launched the Advocate three years ago, we’ve never had so many people call or email to suggest we do the same story. The obscenely long wait times at LifeLabs in Lindsay — the only community bloodwork lab in Kawartha Lakes — has left far too many people frustrated and troubled.

They are frustrated because people — mostly seniors — are literally waiting hours to get bloodwork, or even to do something as simple as dropping off a completed home testing kit. They are troubled because they’re wondering what winter will bring and how they can possibly cope under such conditions.

Roderick Benns, publisher.

It was difficult to hear people in line speak of the miserable times they have endured, whether in the unrelenting sun at the apex of summer, or in the cold rain as autumn ascends. Middle-aged clients spoke of witnessing seniors who depend on canes practically falling over from sheer exhaustion.

This is not an indictment of the individual people who work there. It is clear to everyone I spoke with for this story that staff members are run off their feet and doing the best they can in an imperfect system. The only people capable of turning that system around are those in charge of LifeLabs.

People must get bloodwork done, and if they’re not in hospital, the only place to get it done is LifeLabs, which unfortunately makes it an essential part of our health care system. But because LifeLabs is a private company, its shareholders’ needs come before those of the people needing its services. It’s a situation that should never have been allowed to happen — and one that the provincial government must work to fix.

Yes, some of this is undoubtedly caused by new protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, and on staff turnovers. But many described long wait times pre-pandemic, too. LifeLabs must work harder then — through hiring incentives such as increased wages — anything to ensure that the people are served first, not LifeLabs’ investors.

Why did LifeLabs ever close its other location located near Giant Tiger? Four years ago, Lifelabs closed locations in 15 communities along with testing facilities in Ottawa, London and Thorold.

The hours of operation were cut at 53 others, according to media reports at the time. As well, 122 people lost their jobs. By eliminating more community access points where bloodwork could be done, LifeLabs saved lots of money on the backs of the people they supposedly serve.

It is clear to any senior who has experienced such wait times that Lindsay requires another community lab — something the Advocate will fight for.

MPP Laurie Scott never did return my email asking her to comment for this article. Help us fight to make this change by calling Scott at (705) 324-6654. This government did not cause the current fiasco, but it has the chance to fix it.

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also on the communications team of the Basic Income Canada Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

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