Toronto.  Since August 19 Ontario’s health minister has received 59,000 pieces of mail complaining about the threatened elimination of individual Ontario hospital boards.

Frances Lankin, Minister of Health, wants to place all hospitals, including those privately owned, under elected boards.  Catholics have swamped the office of the Minister with letters of protest.

Layne Verbeek, communications spokesman for the Minister of Health, used “swamped” and “incredible” to describe the situation.  Normally the Ministry receives 25,000 letters per year.  He said that this has been going on for a month and a half and staff had to be brought in from the department to handle the communications.  Even he was delegated to opening the mail.

No change of attitude

Verbeek said that the minister was impressed by the outpouring of mail regarding this issue, but she has “not changed her position.”  He promised that all letter writers will receive an answer.

Catholics were asked by their bishops to write the health Minister. A letter by Most. Rev. J.M. Sherlock, Bishop of London, dated August 12, 1992 stated that if proposed changes go into effect, it would be “impossible for Catholic hospitals to maintain their values, tradition, mission and philosophy.”

Toronto Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic, commenting on the campaign, hoped that government would :meet with the representatives of the Catholic hospitals, before it proceeds with any legislation affecting the hospitals.”

Similar letters were issued in every one of the dozen RC dioceses in Ontario.

In April and May of this year, hospitals were taken over by the Liberal government in New Brunswick. Regional boards were set up to run the hospitals. That left the Catholic bishops up in arms because the religious orders owned seven of these hospitals and they would no longer be able to set policies.

The NDP government of Saskatchewan is also now in the process of establishing regional boards.

Alberta may follow this lead. Their Minister of Health challenged health care institutions, in a letter of May 29, asking them to “ensure that the resources allocated for health care are used in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”

The issue is not competence of volunteers who sit on the hospital boards. It is the fact that regional boards filled with political appointees or elected representatives could prescribe activities such as abortion and euthanasia in Catholic, Lutheran or Salvation Army Hospitals. The issue is not the competency of the existing boards but the real threat to the centuries-old tradition and philosophy of the Catholic- or Christian- run hospital.

The pro-life movement  urges its members to also write their local M.P.P. (in Ontario) or MLA (in other provinces) and strongly voice these objections to them, reminding them that there are such events as elections.