A group of medical providers, representing, racialized, Indigenous communities, and environmental experts have taken exception to comments made by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger at the most recent meeting of the Board of Health. A number of racialized members of the local medical professions had appeared as delegates to press for a reorganization of the Hamilton Board of Health that would see more citizen members representing the local medical profession and marginalized groups. At the meeting the Mayor expressed some frustration that in calling for the changes the delegates were implying that the Board was nor functioning properly.
An open letter, issued today was signed by a number of those who had delegated to the Board along with about 60 others, many of whom were members of the medical community, or who lead other community groups. The letter charged, “Hamilton’s Board of Health is entirely comprised of elected members of Council and lacks structural representation and analysis from local health experts, medical/post-secondary institutions racialized, indigenous communities and environmental experts.”
The letter went on to “ask that the Mayor formally apologize for his dismissive comments and take seriously the need for diverse, representative, inclusive, community health and medical expertise in health governance and leadership in Hamilton.”
Dr Natasha Johnson commented, “the mayor’s clinging tight to the status quo and subsequent allegations regarding “unfounded accusations” of the delegates is very worrisome.”
Dr Kassia Johnston wrote, “the mayor’s comments have created a narrative that criticism negates hard work, that years of healthcare education do not supersede politics and that healthcare improvements can wait on political processes. They can’t. People are dying because we can’t face the uncomfortable but necessary conversations about health reform and equity.”
Councillor Judi Partridge said the criticisms should not be taken personally and she supported a motion by Councillor Nann to have an outside expert hired to advise the Board on how to address the equity and inclusion issues. The discussion was a precursor to plans by the Province to look at a re-vamp of local Health Boards. They are looking for input from municipalities, but preliminary materials from the ministry suggested the equity and inclusion issue is high on the government’s radar.