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Premier Ford met with 200 protestors at Markdale Hospital's official opening

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones helped mark the grand opening of a new state-of-the-art hospital in Markdale, an event that drew nearly 200 protestors demanding an end to health care privatization and accountability for the Greenbelt scandal.

"There's a real concern about paving over agriculture land in Ontario," said Grey Highlands resident and protestor Dave Meslin. "You can never get it back, and farmland is irreplaceable."

Protestors were confined to public property, away from the hospital's grand opening. However, one of the hospital's physicians took the opportunity to voice her concerns while attending the event at her new workplace.

"Public health care should be available to everyone, and I can't ignore that in the face of the hospital opening," said Erica Ferguson, a physician in Markdale.

Standing nearly face-to-face with Premier Doug Ford, Ferguson wore a shirt with the slogan "hands off the Greenbelt!" and her stethoscope to make her presence known.

Asking for a photo with the Premier and an opportunity to speak with him, she said she was declined.

"They're prioritizing profits over people, both in health care and in the greenspace, the Greenbelt," Ferguson added.

Speaking to nearly 100 attendees in his remarks, Ford promised more investments into Ontario's health care system.

"Fifty billion dollars in 50 sites across the province is what we've invested," Ford said. "You're either getting a brand new hospital, like this hospital, or you're getting an addition to the hospital that is required."

Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen was one of the delegates in attendance. He said the two-decade project to build a new hospital in Markdale was crucial to help grow the community.

"This is something that is true to heart. This needed to happen," he said. "Our two main doctors here, one is going to be retiring at the end of this year. Our industry is losing staff, so we're fighting against that, and investing in our community is a way to do that."

The emergency department doors will open at 6 a.m. and be in operation on Sept. 24.

The current Markdale Hospital will close permanently once the emergency department is cleared.

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