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Regional Chair Bradley and Niagara’s 12 mayors call on the public to help support the local health system in advance of the long weekend

The mayors of Niagara’s 12 communities, along with Regional Chair Jim Bradley, issued the following statement regarding the current state of Niagara’s health care system.

“As we head into the August Civic Long Weekend, we want to recognize the critical situation for which our hospital system finds itself.

Niagara Health has formally acknowledged a significant staffing shortage, leading to long waits and delays in service for residents across the region. With over 600 vacant positions, and a substantial number of staff and physicians in self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, it appears the hospital system is unquestionably being stressed to capacity.

It goes without saying that the increase in activity that is part of a normal long weekend will undoubtedly exacerbate these challenges over the coming days. As Niagara’s mayors and Regional Chair, it is our shared desire to see service continuity at all of our hospitals and urgent care centres over the coming days and weeks.  

With a lack of trained health care workers available across the country, there does not appear to be an immediate solution on the horizon. Beyond delays for those seeking service in the region’s hospitals, these staffing shortages mean that Niagara’s talented health care workers are making sacrifices to care for us, while experiencing dramatic levels of burn out and exhaustion.

We also recognize the significant continued challenges experienced by our paramedics and Niagara EMS in caring for patients and transporting individuals to the hospital. There continues to be substantial offload delays at our hospitals that is in part directly increased by the severe staffing shortages.

While we are confident that Niagara Health is doing everything in their power to prioritize the delivery of excellent care for their patients, there are actions we can take to help minimize the impacts on our hospitals:

  • Attend the Emergency Department at the hospital only for a situation in need of serious medical attention

  • Call 911 and request an ambulance only when you are experiencing a serious medical emergency; it is important to remember that being taken to the hospital in an ambulance does not allow you to jump the triage line

  • Contact your primary care provider as an alternative to visiting the Emergency Department

  • Call Health Connect Ontario to chat with a registered nurse (available 24 hours, seven days a week) to obtain medical advice

  • Visit a Niagara Health urgent care centre, which are also open 24/7 or consider booking a virtual appointment

  • Consider visiting a local walk-in clinic for assistance with medical situations that are not an emergency

  • Remember that COVID-19 is still circulating in our community; we urge residents to consider taking reasonable precautions to help limit the spread of the virus

Finally, as Niagara’s mayors and Regional Chair, we request the premier and the provincial government take immediate action to help relieve the pressures that our hospitals, along with hospitals across Ontario, are currently experiencing. As Niagara’s municipal leaders, we stand ready to work with our partners in the provincial government to deliver a solution that ensures the best possible care for our residents, while supporting the wellness of the talented and dedicated staff and physicians who work in Niagara’s hospitals.”

Media Inquiries

Daryl Barnhart
Niagara Region

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