Seeking your input on health care

For decades, our publicly-funded health-care system has been the pride of Canadians. Every citizen, regardless of social standing and ability to pay, has equal access to essential health-care services.
Time and time again it is cited as Canadians’ most valued-service. Yet at the same time, many express frustrations with their ability to access these essential services in a timely manner.
This is particularly true in northern and rural communities with declining and aging populations.
Since being elected to Queen’s Park last fall, access to health care has become an important issue as communities like Ear Falls and Rainy River faced potential closures, and individuals in other communities have expressed frustration that the current system in place does not properly reflect northern realities.
Whether it’s funding models that make it more difficult for smaller health centres to compete with larger hospitals or rostering systems that fail to account for a community’s true population, it’s no secret there is a lot of frustration out there.
But ultimately, the lingering question is: how do we fix the problem?
I’ve always been a big proponent of public engagement. It’s no secret that systems which are designed to work in principle do not always live up to expectations, and the best way to ensure we meet our goals is to speak with those who interact directly with the system and rely on it to meet their needs.
That’s why I’m happy to announce that this Friday (Sept. 28), I will be joined by Ontario NDP health critic France Gelinas to host a series of town hall-style meetings in four communities across the riding. The purpose of these meetings is to hear not only the success stories of northern health care, but also how and where we can improve.
The goal is to take these ideas back to Queen’s Park and push for changes that will help meet those expectations, and that’s why I’ve asked Mme. Gelinas to join me as a special guest.
In her professional career, Mme. Gelinas was the executive director of the Community Health Centre in Sudbury. Under her watch, the health centre expanded its services into many small and rural communities in Northeastern Ontario.
In short, she understands the system, and her knowledge and experience will be a great asset as we push for better health care in the north.
I am, of course, well aware that we are unable to visit every community during this series of town hall meetings, and that morning and afternoon sessions may not work for everyone.
For that reason, I’m asking individuals who are unable to attend, but who have stories to share, to e-mail me at scdryden@ndp.on.ca or write me at 58 Princess St., Dryden, Ont., P8N 1C7.
The first meeting will be held at the Volunteer Bureau (old CN station) in Fort Frances at 8 a.m., with the second one slated for 11 a.m. at the Rainy River Legion.
The other two will be held at the Travelodge in Kenora at 3:30 p.m. and then the Holiday Inn Express in Dryden at 7 p.m.
The events are open to everyone and, of course, are free of charge.
I look forward to seeing you there.

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