Espanola – A well-attended event focussing on Healthcare provided a vivid snapshot of the challenges facing the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments when it comes to providing quality, accessible, health services for people in Northern Ontario.

The Health Care Forum, hosted by MP, Carol Hughes and her special guest Ontario NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, heard from concerned citizens, representatives from the Espanola Hospital, as well Mayor Bernie Gagnon, and some council members. The issues discussed, ranged from the well-known struggles of northern communities retaining medical staff to the unique challenges presented by autism, and highlighted the inter-connectedness of the many levels of government involved.

“We need to ensure that voices are heard, by allowing the community to come together to discuss their healthcare concerns,” said Hughes. “I was particularly struck by the comments of a grandfather who advocated on behalf of a comprehensive autism strategy and also by the way northern hospitals seem to be continually looking to fill vacancies in critical positions.”

“If we’re going to meet the challenges families face today we need to hear from the people who are using the healthcare system every day. They’re too often ignored and as a result precious health dollars that should go to frontline care aren’t put where they’re needed,” said Horwath.

The forum came on the heels of a Canadian Medical Association report that warned of Canada’s aging population presenting significant challenges to our Health Care system.

“We heard about the need for long-term care, accessible housing, assisted living and the ever-growing waiting lists for these services,” said Hughes. “It is apparent that any solutions we pursue must be employed across all levels of government given the way their responsibilities mesh. The people who require these services shouldn’t have to worry which element is Federal or which is Provincial, they should appear seamless.”