Kincardine community upset
at loss of hospital redevelopment project in provincial budget
By Liz Dadson
Health & Fitness
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The Kincardine community is upset that the proposed multi-million-dollar hospital redevelopment project, slated to begin in 2015, was not part of the Ontario Budget introduced Tuesday.
Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer said his response was somewhere between "ticked right off" and disappointment.
"It think that it's wrong on every level," he said, "and many others feel the same. We're all disappointed and a lot of people are not going to be happy."
Kraemer said he spoke to Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson at the Kincardine Chamber of Commerce awards Saturday night and they both had heard there were rumours the project would not receive approval from the Liberal government.
"Almost $1-million has been spent developing this project," he said, adding that the Kincardine community was going to have to raise upwards of $10-million to help fund the project. The municipality already has about $2-million set aside for it, the Kincardine and Community Health Care Foundation has money set aside, as does the South Bruce Grey Health Centre.
"If the government couldn't afford it, why didn't they say so?" said Kraemer. "We have a $6-million medical clinic sitting there which was supposed to be part of the overall design. What happens for doctor recruitment and health care in this area?"
He said council will be discussing the issue at a future meeting. "The provincial budget was just introduced, it hasn't been passed yet. A lot of people are not going to be happy with this government."
Paul Davies, president and chief executive officer of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre, received notification Tuesday night from the health ministry's capital planning branch that the Kincardine project had been halted.
He said he has few details at this point and is unsure if the project has been postponed or cancelled indefinitely. He was planning to speak with the capital planning branch Wednesday to seek clarification.
Davies told The Kincardine Times Wednesday morning that he finds it difficult to believe that the government would cancel the project.
"This would be the first time I've ever seen it happen,'" he said. "We've worked for years on this project. In fact, I based my retirement on that timeline. Now, with just three days left before I retire, the project hasn't been approved."
He noted it's interesting that all projects that were cancelled were in Progressive Conservative ridings.
"I'm not sure why they would cancel it at this point in time," said Davies. "All the money to do the upfront work was paid for by the hospital foundation."
Diane Baldwin, co-ordinator of the Kincardine and Community Health Care Foundation, said the group is very disappointed with the news. "The redevelopment of the Kincardine hospital was desperately needed and we have put in a lot of work in preparing for this project."She said other areas, including Wingham, Grimsby and Sunnybrook, also had infrastructure plans cancelled.
"Our current plans might have changed with the redevelopment project being cancelled; however, our mission and our vision have not," said Baldwin. "We are still focusing on our long-term goal of keeping our hospital current and vibrant in order to best serve the medical needs of our community."
Meanwhile, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson stood up in the Ontario Legislature Wednesday stating that the funding promised the Kincardine and Wingham hospitals, withdrawn in Tuesday's budget, was nothing but premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals' attempt to save the Huron-Bruce Liberal seat during the Oct. 6 election.
Thompson said that Aug. 26, 2011, in Kincardine and Aug. 19, 2011, in Wingham, mere weeks before Ontarians in Huron-Bruce went to the polls, Thompson’s predecessor, Carol Mitchell, on behalf of the McGuinty Liberal government, announced funding for the long-awaited expansion of those two hospitals.
"Yesterday, the rug was pulled out from under these projects—leaving communities behind that were misled and lied to by the McGuinty government," said Thompson.
were clearly pre-budget ploys to swing voter favour to the side of
the Liberal government,” she said. “My
predecessor said to the media back in August that these projects
could be cancelled if the Liberals lost the election.
“I have to question why the Liberal government would play give-and-take with the executive, staff, volunteers, fund-raisers and patients at these hospitals, when they knew there was no money in the provincial coffers to fund these projects. It is a sad day when partisan politics takes precedence over the needs of a community—and that is exactly what this is.”
She said the government owes the people of Huron-Bruce an
explanation as to why the funding for their hospital projects was
here one day and gone the next and explain
why they broke their promise to the good people of Kincardine and Wingham.
"This government needs to come clean to the people of Huron-Bruce and recognize that the promised hospital funding was nothing but a seat-saver that didn’t work," she said.
told a crowd gathered at the Kincardine hospital Aug. 26, 2011, that
funding had just been announced for Phase 1 of the hospital
redevelopment, which includes
At that point, Mitchell said the hospital renovation was on the list of capital projects for 2015.
Following the announcement, Mitchell told the press that no actual figures were available until the tenders went out in 2015, but the community had to come up with 10 per cent of the cost, with the province bearing 90 per cent.
However, she admitted that this would all fall apart if the Liberals were not re-elected in the Oct. 6 election.
"The opposition has no money for health infrastructure," she said. "We have billions of dollars committed to improving education and health care in Ontario."
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012