Mayor Shoemaker strongly opposed to closure of local lab

Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker will contact Ontario’s Minister of Health Sylvia Jones and Sault MPP Ross Romano to voice the City’s opposition to the potential closure of the Sault’s Public Health Ontario lab.

On December 23, 2023, the Auditor-General recommended six Public Health labs be closed, including the one in Sault Ste. Marie.

Council unanimously approved a motion by Ward 5 Councillor Corey Gardi and seconded by Ward 2 Coun. Lisa Vezeau-Allen that urges the Mayor to advocate against the closure.

If the province follows through on the recommendations, Sault residents would be faced with travelling to Sudbury to receive services currently available at the downtown lab.

“One thing that our local lab does, (is that) it assists health inspectors manage outbreaks and tests for whatever is circulating and (it gets) that information promptly, which is obviously very helpful,” said Ward 5 Councillor Corey Gardi.

Gardi said Public Health and the City, together, were able to manage the Covid pandemic. He added that before and during the pandemic the province and the federal government spoke of the improvements they were going to make to the care for the most vulnerable and elderly citizens.

“I think when you take away this type of capacity and expertise from a community you undoubtedly compromise the opportunity and ability to keep institutions like nursing homes, safe,” said Gardi. “I think it’s important for the community that we stand up for its health and safety when we have the opportunity and I think this is clearly one of those times,” he added.

Ward 2 Coun. Lisa Vezeau-Allen noted the Sault is surrounded by lakes, and streams and a number of residents draw water from wells. The local lab, she noted, can conduct timely water tests. Quick turnarounds mean residents don’t have to wait weeks for results.

Vezeau-Allen also told council the Algoma Public Health voted unanimously to reject a merger with the Sudbury District.

“I think that really speaks to how we need to protect what we have in the north. It’s not like you can drive two hours to the next community to get services. We’re looking at large distances. I’m hoping the louder we get maybe we’ll be heard and there’ll be some reconsiderations regarding this.

Sault Matthew Shoemaker said would “absolutely” support the motion.

“I, like Coun. Vezeau-Allen, see this as very akin to our opposition to the merger of Algoma Public Health with Sudbury Public Health. As you take this expertise out of a community it’s unlikely that you will have it returned.

The (lab) is critical to the well being and efficient service of our community,” said Shoemaker, adding he’ll contact the Health Minister immediately.

In response to the potential closures, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is circulating a petition to stop any plans to close Public Health Ontario labs in Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton, Peterborough, Kingston and Orillia.

One thought on “Mayor Shoemaker strongly opposed to closure of local lab

  1. We’re shocked that the part time child/childish mayor has anything else at all on his mind except squandering more tens of millions on the long dead downtown that will never recover as the city becomes even more crime ridden and more people pack up and leave this dead zone behind. It’s not even safe to walk downtown in the daytime any more let alone after dark without being cornered or harassed by criminals and junkies.
    If city hall’s thing is to squander money (and it obviously is) get more cops downtown, and not during business hours when the criminals are sleeping.
    Right now more and more downtown stores are locking their doors during business hours to keep the endless stream of deadbeat loser thieves from entering and pilfering more of their merchandise every day if they can get away with it.
    This will of course result in many more store closures and even less people showing up in this desolate area at all.

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