Protestors against Minden ER closure disappointed in lack of response from local MPP, Ontario government

By Kirk Winter

The protest was covered by CBC, CTV, Global, CP24, TVO and Canadian Press. Photo courtesy of Save Minden Ontario Emergency Room.

When opponents of the closure of the Minden emergency department travelled to Queen’s Park yesterday, they had two real goals: publicity for their cause with major media outlets and some kind of recognition from the Ford Conservatives that they need to get involved to save this very busy and much needed health care facility.

The protestors achieved their first goal in spades. Their press conference at noon yesterday was covered by CBC, CTV, Global, CP24, TVO and Canadian Press. Through Canadian Press’s wire service that provides daily news to hundreds of Ontario radio stations, coverage of the protest and the plight of the Minden emergency department was cropping up by day’s end on dozens of Ontario radio stations in both the GTA and beyond.

Unfortunately, their second goal was not met. The protestors, made up of a coalition of people from Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes and beyond, hoped to hear from Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Sylvia Jones or Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott that the government would intervene with the Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) and at least extend the scheduled closing into the fall.

Despite a visitors’ gallery packed with protestors, and multiple questions posed by opposition politicians, the government did not budge on the Minden closure.

Ford himself did not arrive until the questioning about Minden had come to a close. Local MPP Laurie Scott did not speak on the issue, or even rise to recognize and introduce the delegation of voters from her riding.

Dave Hammond, who travelled to Toronto yesterday for the protest, posted a common reaction to Scott’s treatment of constituents on Save Minden Ontario ER:

“I am completely appalled at your behavior at Queen’s Park yesterday. We had a busload of people (and others) that took over seven hours to travel back and forth. You didn’t even have the decency and respect to even acknowledge us… your constituents… shame on you…”

One protestor who travelled to Toronto posted to Save Minden Ontario ER that she sat directly behind Scott and was frustrated the member spent the bulk of the debate about the Minden closure scrolling through her phone seemingly oblivious to the discussion.

The group was equally as frustrated with Health Minister Sylvia Jones who at first misidentified the issue before her as the closing of an emergency room in Hamilton rather than Haliburton, and then misidentified who the HHHS were.

Jones made it clear in her answers to opposition questions about the scheduled closing that the provincial government supports the closing, the decision was made locally by local people on the HHHS board, and that the province will not intervene in the closure.

After Question Period finished, Jones met with the assembled press and said it was her belief that the health minister was “not ruling out privatization as the government looks at ways to deal with a major staff shortage straining hospitals across the province.”

In multiple postings on Save Minden Ontario ER activists are pushing for pickets at Laurie Scott’s office in Lindsay beginning May 12 at 10:00 am. At time of filing this protest had yet to be confirmed.

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