Ottawa Hospital To Close Its Stuttering Treatment Clinic After 43 Years!

In its recent round of funding cuts Dr. Jack Kitts CEO of the Ottawa Hospital announced that the Stuttering Treatment Clinic will close at the end of October 2015.

Reasons given by the Hospital for closing the clinic are that stuttering is not an illness requiring medical expertise and that the Hospital’s mandate is to care for Eastern Ontario’s “sickest” individuals and to not fund services that can be provided in the community.

Members of the Ottawa Association of People Who Stutter (OAPWS) have written to Dr. Kitts requesting a meeting with either him or one of his senior staff to discuss the reasons behind the closure and to suggest a delay in the closing date.


How Important Is The Stuttering Treatment Clinic To People Who Stutter?

Since it first opened its doors at the Ottawa Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre the Clinic has successfully treated thousands of individuals who stuttered particularly through its intensive and semi intensive therapy programs. The Clinic is only one of three such facilities in Canada to offer these programs.

In our letter we have pointed out to Dr. Kitts that there are simply no resources in the Ottawa area that offer these programs. And studies have shown that the most effective treatment for stuttering behaviour is intensive therapy programs.

Furthermore the Clinic provides an essential placement venue for student clinicians who attend the Speech Language Pathology Department at the University of Ottawa campus adjacent to the Rehab Centre. These students will no longer have access to this essential element of their training in becoming speech pathologists.


How Much Will The Hospital Save?

As for the financial benefits gained from the closing these will be minimal as the most the Ottawa Hospital will save through the year through the elimination of the Clinic is $88,000/year.

These savings represent a paltry 0.34% of the overall cuts of $26 million. As well, this represents savings of one-third of one percent of the budget cuts alone – much less if one was to consider The Ottawa Hospital’s overall yearly budget of well over one billion dollars.


We Need Your Help!

Above are some of the arguments we are using to convince the Ottawa Hospital to keep the Stuttering Clinic open. You can help our discussions with the Hospital by e-mailing Dr. Kitts at expressing your concern over the closure.

We urge people who stutter, especially those who over the years have taken therapy at the Clinic to tell Dr. Kitts the importance and positive effect it has had in so many people’s lives.

Many of you may also have belonged to the old Speech Masters self-help group that was very active in the mid 80s and early 90s and met out of the Rehab Centre.

In addition we encourage family members and friends of those individuals who stutter who have taken the treatment to join us in our efforts to keep the Clinic open. We are also calling on all former speech therapists who worked at the Clinic as well as other speech pathologists in the community who know of the importance of the Clinic to assist us.

Besides Dr. Kitts there are other people you can e-mail to express your concerns including: Premier Katherine Wynne, the Provincial Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins, Patrick Brown the leader of the Opposition, your local MPPs and any other political or government officials you think should know about the closure and who may be sympathetic to our cause.

If you wish to know more about the closing of the Stuttering Clinic and how you can help out please contact me through our site’s contact page.


Published by David Burton

I first took speech therapy some 30 years ago in Ottawa and recently completed a semi-intensive course at the Ottawa Stuttering Treatment Clinic. I am an active member of OAPWS and appreciate the support and sharing of common experiences.

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