The leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party is asking the government to protect all of the health care services offered by a Hamilton community health centre that serves the city’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens.
"After 17 years of dedicated service, (the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre) is stuck in a cramped and broken-down building because of chronic underfunding," said Andrea Horwath, a Hamilton MPP, during question period at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.
"Now the (Local Health Integration Network) wants to cram the CHC into an even smaller facility and cut oral health and foot care from their mandate, even though 18 other CHCs in the province offer these very essential services."
The centre, which is in Horwath's riding, is housed in an old bus station that’s not designed for its services. It has been at that Rebecca Street location since 1997.
"It’s not wired properly, it’s not plumbed properly. It cannot be fixed," the centre’s executive director, Denise Brooks, said previously.
A rally was held Tuesday in the Centre’s parking lot to highlight the building’s issues and to encourage Health Minister Deb Matthews to step in and consider contributing an $8-million funding injection.
"This is an unacceptable situation that this minister has known about for a very, very long time," said Horwath. "Does she not believe it’s her job to make sure that the people of this province get the health care services they deserve?"
In Ontario, funding for community health centres, hospitals, mental health centres and other health-related facilities comes through one of the province's 14 Local Health Integration Networks.
The Health Networks, though, are responsible for the funding of operational expenses — equipment and staff — and not capital projects like buildings.