Health care workers rally in Kenora

Hospital workers gathered today to rally against the governments consideration to cut $1 billion dollars from hospital funding.

Judy Bain, Vice President of Ontario Council of Hospital Unions in the area explains.

"We're just basically out here today to raise awareness for the public that tomorrow the budget is coming down and no one knows whats in the budget of course, but they've introduced a new funding for the hospital systems and were kind of concerned there's innuendos out there's probably more bed cuts and more concessions for hospitals as they try to move our work out in to the community," she said.

She also says that they are looking to keep services open to the public, instead of moving them to clinics.

"It's really unknown as they talk about moving services out of our hospitals and moving them in to what they call clinics and surgical clinics. We're just saying that we want our work to remain in the hospital, keep it public but keep it accessible for everybody,” she added.

Michael Hurley, spokesman for the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, says Kenora residents should be worried about a range of cuts in services that are pending with the provincial budget. These could include reductions in day-surgeries, orthopedics, cataract operations and cancer treatments.

"We're concerned about a wide range of services being moved out of community hospitals and moved  into larger urban centres. Ultimately, we're concerned we'll be left with - in some smaller communities - will be some sort of glorified community health centre. We won't actually have a hospital as we know it now," he said.

Kenora Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell also commented on the rally, saying that she too was worried about the health care situation.

"Health care in my region is already under attack, facing significant challenges as a result of service models based on southern Ontario realities that simply do not exist in our region," she said.

Campbell also had the opportunity to raise the issue in the legislature earlier today.

"I would once again like to ask the minister of health and long-term care to step up to the plate, acknowledge the challenges that are facing our region and work with stakeholders on challenges that are facing our region," she said.

The rally in Kenora was one of many that have been held across the province. The provincial budget is to be released on Tuesday.

(By Brenden Harris, Blair Hutchings and Mike Aiken)