Sudbury·Updated

Sudbury Healthcare Coalition says Thibeault ignoring rally

Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault will make a tourism funding announcement as a rally gets underway at his office, protesting healthcare cuts at Health Sciences North.

'We think it would've been the right thing to do to show up and to talk to the crowd': coalition

The Sudbury Healthcare Coalition says Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault was invited to speak to people who have travelled to Sudbury to protest healthcare cuts in northern Ontario. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The timing of a funding announcement by Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault is under scrutiny.

The Ontario Health Coalition has teamed up with local unions from across the north to rally against hospital cuts.

Hundreds of people are expected to gather in front of Thibeault's Sudbury office Friday, but Thibeault has a scheduling conflict, and is making a tourism funding announcement at the same time at the attraction Dynamic Earth.

Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the coalition, said Thibeault was invited to speak to the crowd at the healthcare rally.

"Some people are traveling in 350 kilometres or more to come to this rally. So we're really disappointed with him. We think it would've been the right thing to do to show up and to talk to the crowd," she said.

Glenn Thibeault's office staff tell a different story. A spokesperson said the coalition knew of the scheduling conflict weeks ago. According to his office, Thibeault is planning to address the protestors, but will arrive after he finishes with his funding announcement.

Cuts at northern hospitals

Hospitals across the province have announced cuts to staff in recent months to meet their budgets for the next fiscal year.

Hospital administrators said money is tight because of a change in the provincial funding formula that earmarks more healthcare funding for care provided in the community.

The Ontario Nurses Association has said 39 full-time and part-time nursing positions are being lost at Health Sciences North in Sudbury.

The hospital said it does not intend to layoff any staff and will use attrition and the elimination of vacant positions to reducing nursing hours and costs.

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