Niagara Health System

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Niagara Health System
LocationRegional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario, Canada
Care systemPublic Medicare (Canada) (OHIP)
Hospital typePublic
Emergency departmentSite Dependent
BedsOver 800
ListsHospitals in Canada

The Niagara Health System, or Niagara Health (NH)[1] is a multi-site hospital amalgamation, comprising the following six sites serving over 450,000 residents across the 12 municipalities making up the Regional Municipality of Niagara, Canada.

NH has almost 900 Acute Care, Complex Continuing Care, Mental Health, Long Term Care and Addiction Treatment beds. A wide range of inpatient and outpatient clinics/services are provided at the six sites. It is one of Ontario's largest hospital systems, with 4,154 employees, 599 physicians and 1,100 volunteers, with an annual operating budget of approximately $400 million.

On January 13, 2014, Health Minister, Deb Matthews, announced that the Ontario government had adopted a recommendation to close 5 of Niagara Health's 6 hospitals. The region would be served by two large state-of-the-art facilities, the St. Catharines site and a new hospital in an as-yet-to-be-chosen location near Niagara Falls. The region would also will be served by two new urgent-care centres, or walk-in clinics.[2]


Niagara Health is the result of a government directive, in 1999, to amalgamate the 8 hospital sites serving the Regional Municipality of Niagara. At that time, the St. Catharines community was served by the Shaver Hospital, for chronic care, the Hotel Dieu Hospital, a Catholic acute care facility managed by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, and the St. Catharines General Hospital. With amalgamation, the Hotel Dieu was placed under the governance and management of Niagara Health and renamed the Ontario Street Site. Meanwhile, the Shaver was assumed by Hotel Dieu management and renamed Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre. [3]

With plans to eventually demolish the Ontario Street Site, which provided mostly acute-care in its new role, the St. Catharines Site grew in scope and importance. Plans to build a larger, more adequate facility in the city's west end, which required enough space to include a cancer treatment centre and mental health facility, were met with opposition by the community.[4] Many deemed the location to be isolated and too far from the majority of Niagara residents. Hospital construction proceeded and the new building opened on March 24, 2013, replacing the St. Catharines General and Ontario Street sites.


Since its inception, Niagara Health has been involved in several noteworthy controversies.

NH has been under an Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) censure since February 2003. According to an Ontario Nurses Association press release in June 2007, censuring is ONA's nationwide public reproach of a health agency due to the negative impact on staff and patient care, of poor labour relations and administrative practices.[5]

In October 2008, the Niagara Health System Medical Staff Association passed a non-confidence vote in the NHS leadership by a vote of 136 to 76.[6]

On May 17, 2010, the Ontario Health Coalition after conducting public hearings in March 2010 issued a report calling on the provincial government to send an investigator to the Niagara Health System, stating the following reasons:

Witnesses in Niagara described the poorest access to hospital beds and emergency department care of all the regions we visited. Cuts have been and are being implemented without any protections for resident access to care and without funding agreements, functional protocols and enablers in place. This panel observes that hospital care in Niagara is chaotic, perilously short-staffed and under-resourced. The hospital system has lost public confidence.[7]

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