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Government gets an earful at public meeting on Hillside Manor beds

June 21, 2017

(Perth-Wellington) – Hillside Manor will be closing, but the crowd had a clear message: the long-term care home’s 90 beds must stay in the community. Well over 200 people gathered this afternoon to make their voices heard at the Mitchell Community Centre for a public meeting run by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The provincial government is now considering a proposal to move as many as 50 long-term care beds from Hillside Manor, near Sebringville, to London.

“My position is clear. Any proposal to transfer beds out of our area should be rejected outright,” Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece said to the crowd’s applause.

“We knew very quickly the government was dramatically underestimating the community’s opposition,” Pettapiece said. “Today’s turnout confirms that—and that’s despite just one small ad, on one day, in one newspaper.”

Pettapiece also presented a stack of signed petitions to the ministry officials. In total, about 3,000 people have signed the MPP’s petition. That number, Pettapiece noted, represents over 3 percent of the population of Perth County.

The petition calls on the government to reject any proposal to eliminate beds in Perth-Wellington. It also calls for increased investment in local long-term care facilities to accommodate our growing number of seniors and their needs.

Many participants spoke at the meeting about rural realities—transportation, in particular—which they believe the provincial government is failing to take into account.

“Rural seems to be a bad word in this government,” said Pat Willows, of Carlingford. “Don’t take our beds from us.”

Many other speakers, including members of Hillside Manor staff, residents and residents’ family, spoke in deeply personal terms about what the bed loss would mean to them.

“For coming to this meeting, and for speaking up, they deserve so much credit,” Pettapiece said after the meeting. “They spoke up for their families and their communities, and they did it well.”

Other participants pointed out some questionable priorities of the provincial government.

“If there’s enough money to spread around to industrial wind turbines and high speed trains, surely there is enough to keep some nursing home beds,” said West Perth Councillor Dean Trentowsky.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker also spoke at the meeting about the government’s priorities and the process the ministry is following to determine whether to approve the bed transfer. Walker serves as the official opposition critic for seniors.

Pettapiece has been working hard in recent weeks to push the government to keep the beds in the area. In addition to launching the petition, MPP Pettapiece successfully pushed the government to add an additional public meeting in the evening hours, so that more people could participate. The government has not yet given a date.

He also asked the government to extend the deadline for written submissions beyond today’s meeting. No dates have yet been announced.

On May 31, Pettapiece also questioned Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in the Ontario legislature.

“If they are serious about consultation, they should listen to people at today’s meeting and stop the bed transfer in its tracks,” Pettapiece concluded.

Pettapiece urged constituents to continue signing petitions. Copies are available on his website: www.pettapiece.ca/petitions. Constituents can also pick up copies at his office, or call 1-800-461-9701 to have a petition mailed to them.

Completed petitions can be returned in their original form to Pettapiece’s constituency office: 55 Lorne Avenue East, Unit 2, Stratford, Ontario, N5A 6S4.

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