7 News Archive
South Riverdale approves NIP program

By Art Moses
Seven News, September 25, 1976

Two young doctors clashed verbally at a public meeting Sept.14 but supporters of the South Riverdale Community Centre won out.

The clinic is scheduled to open in mid-October after an 18-month fight against apparent obstacles posed by Queen’s Park and organized medicine. Unlike most health facilities, it will be run by a board chosen by the people who use it. It will concentrate on preventive medical care and integrate medical attention with other social services.

“This clinic offers not one service not provided by doctors and clinics already in this area,” claimed Harvey Pasternak, who practices medicine on Queen near Leslie.

He was addressing about 60 South Riverdale residents gathered to give final approval to proposals for spending the $2.3 million in Neighbourhood Improvement Program money allocated for the area roughly bounded by Broadview, Dundas, Jones, Leslie and Eastern.

“There are lots of doctors willing to take new patients,” Pasternak insisted. “I’m not overworked. Many new doctors have come into this area at no expense to the city or the province.” He objected to the proposal to spend $200,000 to renovate the old police station at 126 Pape and buy equipment for the clinic.

Most residents at the meet were not impressed.

“You’re only out for yourself. You’re not interested in the community,” one elderly woman shouted.

Michael Rachlis, one of two doctors already hired by the Community Health Centre rebutted Pasternak. He said Pasternak was missing the point of the community clinic.

“You have no time to go into the community, to go into senior citizen homes and other places to give preventive medical care. The private doctor is not paid to do that. In concentrating on preventive medicine we’re not competing with private physicians.”

Pasternak replied, “You need more public health nurses to go door-to-door, not doctors.”

Rachlis said nurses cannot perform many services and doctors are needed to go out into the community, not wait for the sick people to come to them.

Not surprised by the reception, Pasternak shrugged his shoulders and sat down. The residents approved the money with few dissenters. OHIP will pay salaries for the two doctors and one nurse, but will not pay for renovations or equipment.

Earlier, residents approved $200,000 for renovating the old post office building at Queen and Saulter streets. Community Development Officer Margaret Bryce said community use of the building, after two years of negotiations, was assured.

The building is expected to be used for decentralized city services, federal and provincial government offices, social agencies, and local community groups. A branch library may also be incorporated.

Residents later transferred another $579,852 toward post office renovations. That money was originally slated as “contingency.”

Other allocations approved included $200,000 for a “community-cultural participation centre” which would house local amateur theatre companies, $600,000 for child care facilities, and a portion of the $200,000 administration costs for operating the tool-lending co-operative and the housing repair clinics.

Residents expressed their sharpest criticism toward proposals to spend money on things considered city responsibilities. They defeated a proposal to hire a special termite instructor for the area. Instead termite control clinics will be operated through the housing repair clinics.

Residents also objected to allocating more than $300,000 toward street lighting, street design changes, bus shelters, garbage containers, trees, bicycle racks, benches, and park improvements. The city should pay directly, many said, not hide behind NIP to shirk its responsibilities.

But knowing the improvements were impossible without NIP money, they approved the allocations.

Published in Seven News, Volume 7, Number 7, September 25, 1976

Related topics:
Community-based health care
Community health
Community Health Centres