By : PAUL BORRELLI, Integrative Expansion Director for ICGO
The Windsor/Essex Region is in dire need of a state of the art regional hospital for its 400,000 people. For years the region has suffered with inadequate health care thus requiring citizens with critical conditions to be sent to London or even Toronto and Detroit in some instances. Unlike London and Toronto our local hospitals just have never had the high end equipment and medical providers to give patients the optimum level of care. The fact that until recently the University of Windsor lacked a medical school didn’t help the situation. But now we do. Like London and Toronto we also have a medical teaching campus for upcoming heath care workers for the area. What is still sorely needed, however, is a medical facility complex that will accommodate patients with acute conditions in an area experiencing increasing health needs. It is now time to become less reliant on distant places like London and Toronto. We must have our own facility and specialists so that immediate response and attention can be given to a myriad of patient crisis and medical conditions.
Moreover, a high end medical complex will help elevate the Windsor/Essex area in terms of health and safety living standards. The research data shows that the Regional Hospital will be an economic driver creating an estimated 18,000 jobs for the area and make our region more attractive for investment and habitation. In short we need a modern comprehensive and all encompassing hospital, now, to service our region. For this to materialize we all have to work together with a common goal and objective to get this project done. This will require a concerted and collaborative effort by the various stakeholders and our local political representatives at the various levels of government. We need to work together. Anything short of that is counter-productive and can risk our region losing a generational top medical facility to any of the more united municipalities in Ontario.
In a continuing effort to help secure the two billion dollars needed for our “Mega Hospital”, on November 9th, 2020 a motion was put to Council to support the construction of this regional hospital on the approved County Rd #42 location and to ask the Ontario government to prioritize funding for the hospital construction accordingly. Congratulations must be given to Windsor West Progressive Conservative Ontario Riding Association president, Tony Francis in support of the motion who spoke as a Council delegate that day. Acknowledgement must also be given to Conservative Al Teshuba, also a delegate in support of the motion, who has been a strong advocate and voice for numerous area projects for the betterment of the community.
The Council motion eventually passed on a 7 to 4 recorded vote. It is unfortunate that four City Councillors voted against the motion, as unanimous Council support would have been much preferred and would send a stronger message to Queen’s Park! This was not a time to lose sight of the bigger picture of the overall prosperity for our region, both in terms of higher quality of health care, and on an economic basis.
Rino Bortolin (Ward 3) a former Provincial Liberal Candidate, Chris Holt (Ward 4), Fabio Constante (Ward 2), all voted against the motion with reasons such as their Wards were too far from the new Mega Hospital location, lack of adequate transportation routes, need to revitalize the city core and the risks and inconveniences potentially created by reducing the services in their particular Wards. All these concerns have certain political merits for Councillors espousing them. However, the concerns may not be so merit worthy upon critical understanding of the rational and purpose for creating an enhanced state of the art ”regional” based health care system.
The proposed new medical system is based on the needs of an entire “region”composed of ONE state of the art “Mega Hospital” to accommodate for acute care patients. The main hospital will be operated in collaboration and coordination with the various day only emergency locations throughout the region as well as the University of Windsor medical teaching school. With this all encompassing system, health care will be provided efficiently and effectively throughout the Windsor/Essex region.
The fourth opposing vote, was from Ward 9 Councillor Kieran McKenzie, whom is former Office Manager of NDP Brian Masse. His negative vote was absolutely shocking and disheartening, and is a very poor representational vote on behalf of his Ward 9 constituents. The vast majority of Ward 9 residents are totally in favour of the new Mega Hospital and its County Rd 42 location. It was surprising and bewildering that McKenzie would vote against a major project for his Ward which stands to benefit greatly when completed.
After years and years of community consultation and experts’ input, it is time to move on and get behind the new Mega Hospital at County Rd 42. We should not wast any more valuable time and tax payer dollars on more impact studies, appeals and challenges, superfluous political debates and Council motions to try to reverse decisions on the location. It’s time for all community representatives to work towards achieving the goal of bringing our region’s health care into the twenty first century standards. This requires the building of a “Mega Hospital”!
This process has gone through enough due diligence, and for many years. We have to focus on the overwhelming positive general will and consensus of the people, and value the well-being of the regional public at large. We should no longer be sidetracked by the opposing obstructionist minority. We must must not let delay motions, court appeals, LPAT hearings, and naysayer groups like some in the Downtown BIA and CAMPP, be a distraction to achieving our Regional Hospital at the approved County Rd 42 location. It is hoped that such negative distractions and efforts have not permanently discouraged the Ontario Provincial government from moving forward on the Windsor-Essex region capital allocation file. Confirmation of the approved location with a 7-4 vote on the motion lead by Mayor Dilkens, affirms a consensus and resolve to perhaps elevate Windsor-Essex on the top of the Provincial funding list for our new Mega Hospital.
Windsor is in a very awkward position with the Provincial government at this time (especially having only regional opposition NDP MPPs to represent us). There are at least a dozen municipalities that are vying for the same capital funds. In order to secure these competing funds the stakeholders, people and local representatives have to collaborate with the provincial officials, with a unified voice, to convince them of the essential need and economic benefits for the growth and sustainability of one of the most important regions in Ontario.
Windsor/Essex is the Gateway to Canada and it can no longer be ignored. A Regional Hospital will provide a benefit not only locally but be an economic driver for all of Ontario. “Let’s Get Things Done”!