Milton Hospital Expansion News

This is great news!  Slowly but surely the process of the expansion of our hospital continues.  Many thanks to all Miltonians who over the last several years fought with us to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.

Released today via Halton Healthcare Services website.

For immediate release
October 4, 2012

Milton Hospital Expansion Launches Into Next Stage of Planning

Staff and physicians at Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) are working diligently ‘behind the scenes’ as plans for a significant expansion at Milton District Hospital continue to develop.
In April 2012, Halton Healthcare Services received a $22.5 million Planning & Design grant from the provincial government to fund the prepatory work that must take place before the first shovels hit the ground.  Work on the project has now proceeded to the next stage of planning – the development of the Functional Program.

The Functional Program is an essential planning document that outlines all the functions, operations, staffing, major equipment, room and space requirements for each department or service in order to describe the components of the expansion. The Functional Program must be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Long‐Term Care for review before the Hospital can continue its work with the architects on the more detailed design work.

“I am very pleased that we are launching into the functional programming stage of the project. Through this process we will identify the equipment and staffing requirements and also lay out the detail necessary for the architectural design and construction phase of this exciting project,” said Al Coady, Executive Director of Milton Redevelopment at HHS. “It really is a cornerstone document for us because it forms the basis for all the future planning and design decisions that will need to be made as we move forward in the process.”

The development of the Functional Program involves numerous HHS employees organized into teams based on the area or department in which they work.  These teams consist of managers, key staff members, representatives of the medical staff and, in some instances, the senior team member responsible for that area. The Hospital’s Functional Program teams have already started meeting in order to ensure the plan is submitted to the Ministry in November 2012.

“There is a tremendous amount of work to be completed prior to the start of construction. We are very excited to begin this planning because we know that each stage we complete brings us one step closer to getting this project into the ground,” said John Oliver, HHS President & CEO.

Milton District Hospital was built in 1959 and, following the Hospital’s last major expansion in 1987, was prepared to meet the healthcare needs of a population of 32,000 people. With the Town’s population nearing 100,000 and growing, this much needed expansion will approximately triple the size of the current facility.

The approval for the expansion at Milton District Hospital was announced by the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long‐Term Care at an event held on August 25, 2011. Plans for the Hospital’s expansion include new space for the Emergency Department, Diagnostic Imaging Department, Maternal Child Unit, Surgical Suites, Intensive Care Unit and the Medical Surgical Inpatient Units.

“Ensuring Milton families have access to the primary care services they need is among the highest priorities for Halton Healthcare Services,” concluded Mr. Oliver. “In order to do that, we absolutely need a larger more modern facility, right here in Milton.”

Contact:
Andrea Korol
Communications Specialist, Redevelopment
Halton Healthcare Services
905‐878‐2383, ext 6531
akorol@haltonhealthcare.on.ca

AMO Update – Post Ottawa

Over the next couple of days, I will get a more detailed accounting of what Milton councillors did on our 3 day conference in Ottawa.  I promise 🙂

For those that don’t know, myself along with a number of Milton Councillors attended the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference in Ottawa.  This gives local elected officials an opportunity to meet, discuss ideas that are important to their constituents, attend workshops and seminars as well as network with provincial government officials as well.

Last year a number of councillors went to the conference in London Ontario to meet with the infrastructure minister as well as the provincial health minister to stress the importance of the expansion of Milton District Hospital.  At that point we were armed with over 6,000 plus fresh signatures from the Grow Milton Hospital campaign as well as the previous Friends of Milton Hospital’s 35,000 plus signed cards from residents to let them know the number one issue in our town was the hospital.

You’ll remember that shortly after that (and a looming provincial election in the coming weeks MIGHT have had a LITTLE something to do with the announcement /end sarcasm) we received word that the expansion was going to move forward.

This year there were a number of issues that face Milton as we continue to grow in leaps and bounds.  Unofficially our population ticker is over the 100,000 mark and headed even higher.  There is a lack of schools being committed in Milton, which is one of the main reasons that our Halton District School Board Trustee Donna Danielli attended the conference for this meeting.

We were originallytrying to meet with the Education Minister Laurel Broten, but given the high pressure of the teachers negotiations, she was nowhere to be found in Ottawa (same as the finance minister oddly enough 🙂 ) but we ended up with Deputy Education Minister instead.

The deputy minister knew of Milton’s needs well before we got there as we are one of many municipalities that are facing these school shortages.  Donna was our “point person” during this meeting as she faces these issues on a daily basis, hearing from residents about when new schools will be ready, why there are 30 portables in each location and when will it stop.  Milton council members don’t have jurisdiction in this at all.  I got emails from folks telling me that we shouldn’t be bothering since we have no control.

Its true.  We dont have an official say in this and our presence there was mainly symbolic.  But it did make a point to every minister we met that Milton meant business.  If you follow the news at all, you know there is a lot going on right now with the education ministry and the “negotiations” with school boards and teachers, which was probably the reason she didnt make it to the AMO conference.  I am confident that we will be hearing some good news soon regarding some of our much needed schools in Milton, after everything else is being dealt with.  So stay tuned for that news.

That wasn’t the only meeting myself and the other councillors attended in the 3 days.  There were a number of meetings with government ministers to discuss items like slot revenues, the horse racing industry and MPAC issues we are having. 

As outlined by Kim Arnott in the Milton Canadian Champion recently, we could be possibly facing an issue of property tax increases here in Milton and other areas due to MPAC being delayed in their reassessment of homes.  Here’s the article.

Assessment issues could impact Milton property taxes

A “hair-raising” property tax increase could be in the works for Milton as a result of assessment issues that are beyond the Town’s control.  A combination of delayed assessment updates and resolved assessment appeals could result in a property tax impact of as much as $2 million, or a six to seven per cent increase on local property taxes.When combined with education and regional taxes, the result could be an increase of two to three per cent on the combined tax bill that’s mailed to local residents.  

“It’s making the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” said Councillor Mike Cluett. “This is very important.”A report delivered to council last night by Milton treasurer Linda Leeds outlined the challenges for the coming year.  The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), the provincial body responsible for assessing properties and assigning values for taxation purposes, will be conducting a province-wide reassessment next year.

Prior to the completion of that reassessment, an attempt is currently underway to resolve outstanding assessment appeals from prior years, with a focus on commercial and industrial properties.  However, that means that assessors are involved in hearings and not available to undertake assessments of new properties so they can be added to municipal tax rolls.

This is particularly problematic for rapidly-developing municipalities like Milton. The assessment and addition of new properties throughout the year — known as supplementary assessments — allows the Town to begin collecting taxes from those properties.  A delay in adding new properties to the municipal tax rolls means the Town needs to finance the expansion of services to accommodate new residents and business while it waits for the cash to come in.

In the 2012 budget, taxes from supplementary assessments were anticipated to be $2 million. However, so far this year MPAC has assessed only 116 of more than 800 new residential properties, for a total of only $77,413 in property taxes.

Staff is particularly concerned with the possibility that new commercial and industrial properties – which typically carry large tax bills – may not be assessed in a timely fashion.  The attempt to rapidly resolve outstanding assessment appeals could also impact on the town’s finances.

When property owners appeal their assessments, they are required to pay the full assessment until a decision is made on the appeal. If an appeal is successful, the Town issues a refund for taxes paid.   

As the 2012 budget was established prior to the announcement of the plan to try and resolve outstanding appeals, only $230,000 was budgeted for refunds arising from successful appeals.  However, with 94 individual non-residential properties in Milton combining for 591 appeals (some dating back to 2001), the town could easily be on the hook for refunds that far surpass the budgeted amount.While the town has no direct control over MPAC, councillors did pass a resolution to ask MPAC to undertake the necessary supplementary assessments, and resolved to bring the issue to the attention of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

One of the seminar/workshops that AMO had this week was an update from MPAC by Chair of the Board Dan Mathieson and Antoni Wisniowski, the new CAO and the status of a number of things, and whats to come.  Needless to say it didn’t have a lot of answers to questions during the presentations, but they did do a Q&A with attendees afterwards.  As you would expect, Regional Councillor Colin Best was right up there for the questions and highlighted many of our concerns raised in that motion Milton council passed.

From what we were told at the conference, the slides and possibly video of some of these sessions might be available so if and when it does, I will post here on my site.

I will get into more detail soon regarding the different sessions myself and members of council did attend.  We were there en masse and we tried to spread ourselves out to maximize our numbers but there was still some overlap in some of the sessions.

If you have any questions or want some specific information on sessions I attended on behalf of the Town of Milton, either post a  comment or send me an email Mike@MikeCluett.ca

Discover Milton Chats with Mike Cluett

October 2012 marks the half-way point for the term of Milton’s Town Council.  Discover Milton (D.M.) recently had a chance to chat with Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett about how life is going for him in his first term. We covered a variety of topics about Milton and even learned a thing or two we didn’t already know about him.

Cluett is a Brampton native, and married with two kids.  His family moved to Milton in 2003, and he has always been involved on various committees before running for office in the October 2010 election.  He is a first term councillor representing ward six, one of the newly created wards.  Ward 6 has boundaries of Thompson Rd (West), Fourth Line (East), Derry Rd (North), and Britannia Rd (South).

D.M.:  What’s been your biggest personal challenge since you’ve been elected?

M.C.:  “The biggest challenge so far since being elected is doing my best to maintain a good work-life balance.  The position of councillor is part time and many of us have full time jobs/businesses and it’s difficult to keep the balance with everything that’s going on.  The key is having a very supportive family, which I am very lucky to have.”

D.M:  What’s been your biggest political challenge?

M.C.:  “Communication with the residents in my ward & in the Town of Milton has been the biggest challenge.  During election campaigns I find that people get engaged in the process and are aware of issues.  Unfortunately in between election campaigns it becomes more difficult to engage residents in discussions regarding tax increases, government spending, and what services to increase/decrease.  I have been working hard utilizing social media (Twitter/Facebook) to try to engage residents in these discussions and get them involved in the process.  I have always believed that you shouldn’t just see your elected officials during election time.  It’s what’s done in between the campaign that matters.”

Meeting Milton residents is Cluett’s favourite part of the job.  “It’s great to meet new people all the time who are just as passionate about Milton as I am.” Cluett meets a lot of people at community events including the recent Cruisen on a Hot Summer Night.

His least favourite part of the job is when residents come to him with a problem and he can’t do anything about it.  “Sometimes it’s the responsibility of another level of government,” he said.  Besides attending events, Cluett takes time to regularly canvass his ward.  He recalls one resident handing him a jar of garlic pickles following a conversation on traffic calming and cell phone towers.

“They were awesome, and I’ll be sure to go back there door-knocking again soon too,” he said.

D.M.:  How would you evaluate the Council’s progress so far?

M.C.:  “The voters will decide how well we are progressing at election time. I think this council is doing an OK job but in reference to tax levels, communications, and focus I would rank us as “needs improvement.”  We can always do better.”

Cluett feels Council’s biggest challenge is to balance the town’s needs against the continued growth and keeping voters informed on various projects due to start before the end of this term.

“There are a lot of road projects that will be started before the end of next term such as the Main Street expansion, Derry Road underpass, Tremaine Road widening as well Steeles expansion.” Cluett continued adding the key to it all would be to keep the voters informed.

The future could see him with a new position with Milton Council following the next municipal election. He has recently announced his intention to run for Regional Council wards 1,6,7,8.

“Milton has only 3 councillors at the Region and each representative there needs to be focused, knowledgeable and a strong communicator,” he said.  He made the decision after speaking with voters and hearing their frustration. 

“There are many things happening now that will have an effect on the quality of life in Milton, and we can’t afford to take chances on who represents us.”

D.M.:  How do you feel social networking (Twitter, Facebook) helps politicians?

M.C.:  “It helps connect you to the voters. It’s become such an integral part of our life, when something happens many people jump online, or check Facebook & Twitter for information.  The important part of social media is to engage people in conversations. Anyone can use it to spout off campaign platforms or messages of the day.  It’s key to have direct interaction with people through conversation and if used properly can help increase voter turnout.”

Turnout for the 2010 municipal election was approximately 32.6%.

D.M.:  Where did the nickname “The Mouth of Milton “come from?  How did Ann’s megaphone come about?

M.C.:  “I have been privileged to know the Tiger Jeet Singh family and Troy Newton (Troy’s Diner) and to help out as much as I can with their charity causes like Tigerfest and Troy’s Toy Drive.  We were sitting in the diner one day when someone suggested I get a megaphone for the event (even though many would say I don’t need one) where Troy blurted out “The Mouth of Milton” in reference to “The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart” in the old days of wrestling.  In promoting last year’s Milton Tiger fest, I even recorded a video pro wrestling style as the Mouth of Milton.  The name just stuck.”

Cluett even had a megaphone painted like a mouth by local artist Ann Kornuta.  The name is oddly fitting, as Cluett is a former Disc Jockey (D.J.), and emcee for dances and weddings.

Councillor Mike Cluett can be reached via his email address: mike@mikecluett.ca on Facebook, or on Twitter as @Mike_Cluett and through his website www.mikecluett.ca

Milton Hospital Expansion Safe From Provincial Budget Cuts

Ontario budget won’t affect MDH

Christina Commisso, Milton Canadian Champion

Group say they’ll keep advocating for the MDH expansion until it’s complete. GRAHAM PAINE/Metroland Media Group

The Milton hospital expansion is still a go.

Following media reports last week that new hospital projects announced prior to the provincial election would be put on the chopping block in today’s budget, members of the Friends of Milton Hospital team were relieved to learn that the Milton District Hospital (MDH) expansion is safe and sound.

Speaking to the Champion from Queen’s Park, Councillor Mike Cluett said MDH isn’t one of the four hospital projects that have been cancelled in Ontario’s 2012 budget.

“Halton Healthcare Services is working on a plan for the expansion and has never stopped with the planning from what we’ve heard,” said Cluett.

He said after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan delivered his budget speech, a thumbs up from Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh signaled the much needed local expansion was on track.

Cluett attended the budget presentation with fellow Friends of Milton Hospital member Samantha Attew.

“We were ready with pitch forks,” said Attew, who said she was elated to learn the plan to triple MDH is moving ahead.

“I look forward to putting this thing in the ground,” she said from Queen’s Park. “You cannot play with health care. It’s something every Canadian is entitled to. It’s not a political thing.”

She continued, “I’m proud to be part of Milton and proud of Ted (Chudleigh).”

Cluett said the Friends of Milton Hospital will continue to advocate for the expansion until construction is complete — which was previously estimated for 2015 or 2016. “I give credit to the people of Milton for speaking their mind and letting the government know that we’re not backing down.”

Last night, Milton council unanimously passed a motion that reaffirmed the Town’s support for MDH and their willingness to help with the 10 per cent local contribution needed for the construction.

Remember this? I do!

Deb Matthews: “…the green light… the go ahead… I want to be very clear. This money has been allocated. It is in our fiscal plan. It has gone through the treasury board. All of the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. This money is part of our infrastructre plan….this money is part of that plan.”

Do you remember this day? I do…and over 100,000 Miltonians do as well. Here is a press release from MPP Ted Chudleigh.

www.tedchudleigh.com

MILTON DISTRICT HOSPITAL EXPANSION: A PROMISE THAT MUST BE KEPT
Chudleigh urges the people of Milton to remain vigilant as the 2012 budget nears

(Milton) – With the tabling of the 2012 Ontario Budget less than a week away, and the Minister of Finance promising massive infrastructure cuts, Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh today urged the people of Milton to keep their voices strong to ensure the expansion of the Milton District Hospital is completed on time.

“All of us were thrilled when the Minister finally promised the hospital would be expanded by 2016. But we can’t kid ourselves. With the Liberals’ spending problem hitting us hard, the long list of broken Liberal promises and with talk of hospital projects being axed in the upcoming budget we need to keep our voices strong,” said Chudleigh.

“Was this just another Liberal lie to get elected?” asked Chudleigh

The PC Government began the project to expand the Milton hospital in 2001. In 2003, soon after they were elected, the McGuinty Liberals cancelled the expansion.

Subsequently, for close to a decade, the people of Milton worked diligently to explain to the Liberals the necessity of expanding the hospital. A booming population and undersized hospital were not acceptable and had begun to put the heath of their families at risk.

On August 25, 2011 the Liberal Minister of Health and Long Term Care finally heard the Town’s plea and promised the province would fund the hospital’s expansion, “I want to be very clear this money has been allocated. It is in our fiscal plan. It has gone through our treasury board. All of the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed,” she said.

“Was Milton lied to?” asked Chudleigh “I guess only time will tell.”

Indeed, noting that the announcement to expand Milton District Hospital occurred just before the provincial election, Chudleigh questioned if the McGuinty Liberals ever intended to keep their promise to expand the hospital by 2016.

“The Minister stood in the Milton hospital, with tears in her eyes, and promised the hospital would be expanded by 2016,” said Chudleigh. “If this was an election ploy it is unforgivable.”