Happy Canada Day Milton

Thank you to everyone who came out to the annual Veterans Breakfast at Victoria Park this year.  Every year the Knights of Columbus hosts a pancake breakfast in honour of our veterans.  Its not just on Remembrance Day that we honour those who have fought for our country, those who returned and those who didnt, and it couldnt have been a more perfect day to do so.

MPP Ted Chudleigh (pictured here) as well as Halton MP Lisa Raitt joined members of council Mayor Gord Krantz, Clr’s Greg Nelson (who did some of the cooking) Colin Best, veteran Rick Malboeuf and myself to honour those brave heroes, who without their efforts we wouldnt be able to stand proudly and celebrate our freedom that many take for granted.

After the breakfast there was a brief remembrance ceremony at the cenotaph followed by a parade of veterans leading us to the gates of the Milton fairgrounds.  It was heartwarming to see the support of the community as they marched along with the veterans, applauding them and thanking them for their service.

We then assembled by the bandstand where those in attendance (including myself) reaffirmed our oath to Canada.  Normally there would be a swearing in ceremony for new Canadians, but this year its been done regionally and not locally.

After the formalities concluded, people by the dozens lined up for a piece of Canada Day cake and cupcakes to start off what was to be an amazing Canada Day in Milton.

Another big THANK YOU goes to the crew who organized the days events.  I know many of them personally and many, MANY hours went into preparation for this day and they should be thanked over and over for a wonderful day.  Great job!!

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.”

Milton Champion Coverage of Hospital Expansion Announcement

I’m still giddy (yes I said giddy) with excitement everytime I read something about the expansion at Milton District Hospital.  Here is the article from today’s Milton Canadian Champion (by Christina Commisso) with coverage of the historic announcement.

Hospital expansion approved

Completion expected in late 2015 or early 2016

Hugs, high-fives and tears were aplenty Thursday morning, as Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews announced Milton’s hospital has been given the long-awaited green light for a massive expansion.

Milton District Hospital (MDH) will triple in size following a 320,000 square-foot addition that should be completed by late 2015 or early 2016.

“The support is unanimous. We have people from all political parties who are here today saying yes, this is the right decision. I’m pleased that all of us together have gotten where we are today,” said Matthews, as the room erupted in applause.

Pointing to an outpouring of community support that has  surrounded the MDH expansion, the Liberal MPP said hospitals are the heart and soul of a community, “and no where is that more true than right here in Milton. You should change the town’s motto to ‘where we don’t take no for an answer.’”

Matthews re-iterated that the expansion is poised to move full-steam ahead. “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. This money is part of our infrastructure plan.”

The expansion will include a new emergency department to accommodate 45,500 visits a year. Currently the department can handle 30,000 visits. The addition of an MRI machine and chemotherapy services will more than triple the size of the hospital’s diagnostic imaging department. A new maternal child-care ward will include 17 post-partum beds, up from the current eight, and the intensive care unit will see 10 beds, up from six.

Also in the plans are two new medical surgical in-patient units with capacity for 72 patients and expanded operating suites, and a post-anesthetic care unit that will accommodate 8,400 surgeries a year — a 70 per cent increase over the department’s current capacity.

Eighty per cent of the rooms will be single patient to enhance infection control.

Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) CEO John Oliver said construction should be complete by 2015/16, about a year after the new Oakville hospital is planned for completion.

“Both hospitals will be under construction at the same time and one will open right after the other. We’re going to make up for lost time in Milton,” said Oliver to an elated crowd.

He said detailed planning with hospital staff will begin immediately, along with discussions with the hospital foundation and the Town regarding the local share of the construction costs plus the entire cost of equipping and furnishing the hospital.

Asked about the cost of the expansion, Oliver said for the time being a number won’t be released to the public. “We learned from the Oakville project when you put a number out, it changes…we’ll talk about the kinds of services and the number of beds, but we won’t release a number to the public.”

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz said at this point in time he has no idea what kind of money the Town will be on the hook for in terms of the local share.

“This was only the start and now some of the grunt work needs to be done and finances is going to be a big part of that,” he said. “I have a sneaking suspicion the community is going to buy into this and fundraising is going to have to be a definite part of it.”

The recently-announced Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital expansion, pegged at $312 million, is looking for $120 million from the Burlington community. The Town of Oakville has committed up to $130 million toward the construction of the new Dundas Street and Third Line hospital, and the Oakville Hospital Foundation is raising $60 million for the community share.

Asked if the hospital’s local share will be part of the Town’s 2012 budget — which is already well underway — Milton’s CAO Mario Belvedere said, “We will do what needs to be done to support this program and we can work on amending whatever needs to be done.”

He said he plans to meet with Oliver within the next few weeks to discuss numbers, adding that the scope and speed of the expansion is “well beyond our imagination.”

Halton’s Conservative MPP Ted Chudleigh, who has advocated for a Milton hospital expansion for a number of years, joked, “It’s such a good day, I don’t think I can say anything bad about the Liberals.

“This project is going from functional planning to completion in one step, that’s unprecedented in Ontario.”

Asked how the expansion — which several Milton residents and councillors dubbed the number one election issue — changes the dynamics of the October 6 provincial election, Chudleigh said, “It becomes less of an issue. It comes off the table and now it’s a matter of making it happen.”

Local provincial Liberal candidate Indira Naidoo-Harris said Thursday was a day for celebration.

“It’s a wonderful day for Halton and Milton. I am thrilled the minister has been listening to our community.”

Several members of the Friends of Milton Hospital and Grow Milton Hospital groups were on hand for the announcement and said the days of gathering about 40,000 signatures (during two community campaigns) in support of an expansion — in rain or shine — has finally paid off.

“We needed care at all levels,” said Friends of Milton Hospital co-chair and former nurse Cari Kovachik-MacNeil. “Milton’s emergency has always been known for how good it was, but then where do the patients go from here when the hospital is in gridlock. Now they can stay here, in their own hometown.”

Great Day for the Milton Mutt Strutt

The rain didnt damper anyone’s fun on Saturday at the Milton Fairgrounds for the 2nd Annual Milton Mutt Strutt.

The weather wasnt really cooperating with the events for the day but the dogs put on a great show and they made it a a really fun event.  Yannick Carter from the Hamilton Tigercats was the special guest and he opened up the days festivities with his story of adopting cats from the Oakville Milton Humane Society.  He along with a number of other dog owners braved the rain as he led them on a slightly abreviated walk.

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz, yours truly as well as other town councillors Rick Malboeuf (who brought his dog for the walk) and Rick Di Lorenzo joined other dignitaries Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh in the days events.  A number of federal candidates joined us as well including Liberal candidates Connie Laurin-Bowie, Conservative candidate Lisa Raitt, Green Party candidate Judi Remigio and NDP candidate Pat Heroux came out to cheer on the participants and see the shows these talented pets put on, despite the weather.

I dont know off hand what the final tally was in the fundraising efforts of the Oakville Milton Huname Society but it should be pretty close to last years total, if not more!  The organizing committee should be commended and congratulated for a great event and hopefully we can get better weather next year.  Thanks to everyone who came out with their dogs and supported this organization.  You can find out more about the Human Society by going to their website www.oakvillemiltonhumane.ca

A big TWO PAWS UP to everyone involved.

Update on Oakville’s New Hospital

Continuing on the “hospital” theme of my posts today, I read this article from Oakville Today and a conversation with John Oliver, the CEO of Halton Healthcare Services.  You will find his name familiar as HHS is also responsible for Milton District Hospital.  This article gives a good synopsis on what it took to get the new hospital approved in Oakville, the services it will be providing area residents (potentially Miltonians as well) and when we can expect it to be up and running.

I think the big difference between the new Oakville Hospital and the potential expansion of Milton District Hospital is the fact that Oakville is, as John Oliver states, “from scratch” whereas any plans for MDH will include the current facility and the surrounding lands.  There is no idea from any organization on what the potential costs of expansion would be, including the all important local portion that the Town of Milton has to raise in that 30 year period.

Depending on what the provincial government approves this coming 2011 fiscal year (or if they will approve Milton’s expansion) will decide on how much the Town of Milton will have to raise.  As you know, Milton Town Council had approved the 1% tax levy to go towards the dedicated Hospital Expansion fund for the 2011 tax year and will be looking at other ways to add funds to the balance.

It’s important for everyone to keep their eye on the ball so to speak on what needs to be done, ensure we have a proper plan in place and for Milton Town Council, in conjunction with the residents and taxpayers of Milton, find ways to raise money for this fund without continuing and or increasing this levy.  Many of the councillors around the table stated that they will be ensuring more public input on ideas and I will endeavour to make sure that happens.

Obviously this new hospital in Oakville will have some affect on what expansion MDH will get but I hope the province of Ontario realizes that something has to be done.  Its been said over and over again and it bears repeating over and over again.  The Province of Ontario needs to recognize that Milton needs SOMETHING done and soon.  The population of Milton is rapidly approaching 100,000 and our current facilities simply wont do.  The Town of Milton needs to be seen as a priority to ensure the proper delivery of healthcare services to Milton residents and the surrounding area.

Lets hope they listen…because I certainly will keep talking about it with you.

Feel free to comment.

Halton Healthcare Services President John Oliver brings community up to speed on new North Oakville hospital project

NORTH OAKVILLE TODAY – A consortium will soon be selected to build the new Oakville hospital and shovels are likely to hit the ground by the summer, but curiosity still surrounds the finer points of the ongoing process.

North Oakville Today spoke with President and CEO of Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) John Oliver to get further insight into one of the most important projects ever undertaken by this community.

The new Oakville hospital, which is slated for a 50-acre site at the northwest corner of Third Line and Dundas Street, is expected to open its doors in early 2015.

“We’re building a hospital from scratch,” said Oliver. “We’re not doing a renovation, we’re not doing an add-on. We’re on a green field site and we have an opportunity to create a facility that in all aspects is modern and designed with the most recent thinking in hospital design.”

The project is being funded through the province’s Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model.

Under the model, a private consortium of companies and investors will be responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the hospital.

The hospital is then paid for by the province and stakeholders over a 30-year period, similar to a mortgage.

According to Oliver, the AFP model transfers much of the construction risk to private sector partners.

The AFP model requires a local share contribution towards the cost of the hospital, which totals $530 million: $60 million from the Oakville Hospital Capital Campaign, $270 from Halton Healthcare Services and up to $200 million from the Town of Oakville.

In order to protect the competitive bidding process, an estimated total cost of the hospital has never been released.

With the February 25 request for proposal approval date fast approaching, Oliver said that the foremost factor being considered when selecting one of three bidding consortia is how closely the bids adhere to HHS’s building specifications.

“We have issued what are called project specific output specs,” said Oliver. “We are looking for the bids to be compliant and aligned with our desired project descriptors.”

Oliver said that cost issues are also being considered as well as construction management and building maintenance.

“We will have an agreement where for 30 years after we take occupancy, the building will be maintained [by the consortium],” he said.

According to Oliver, after the request for proposal close date, there will be a period of bid evaluations with Infrastructure Ontario ending in mid to late May. Only after that will the successful bidder be announced.

“Soon after the preferred proponent is named, we’ll probably begin early work on the site,” said Oliver. “There are things that have to get going with access roads and storm water management and all the grading and the developments needed to have the infrastructure to sustain a major capital project. There’ll be site work likely in late May, early June.”

Oliver said that at the same time the preliminary site work is taking place, HHS should be working towards commercial and financial close, which involves coming to a final agreement with the approved consortium. He said commercial and financial close is expected by mid-summer.

“Then the actual site construction work can begin immediately after that so we would anticipate that to be in late July or early August,” he said.

When the facility opens, patients will be transferred to the new Oakville hospital from Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. The number of beds at the new hospital will be increased over time to 457 beds with space to grow to 602 beds in the future.

Oliver said right now, HHS is working on being operational ready for 2015.

“It’s a mountain and you scale a mountain one day at a time,” he said, “and we’re starting four and a half years in advance and we will be very ready to deliver care when we open those doors.”

The transition into a new hospital seems like a daunting task but Oliver said that HHS is looking into other hospitals that have successfully made the move.

“Any lessons we can learn on being operational ready we are picking up from some very recent experiences locally,” he said.

Oliver said that the vision for the new Oakville hospital is meant to offer more than just additional rooms, newer equipment and more staff. It will also offer a comfortable environment in which to heal.

“There is a lot of evidence,” said Oliver, “that environments that are warm, supportive, that are reflective of the environment that you live in…are conducive to healing and much more supportive for families and for staff that are staying with patients as well. So that’s the kind of environment we’re after.

“Almost all areas are designed now to make sure that we have light wells and areas where people can feel connected to the landscape and connected to nature through the building.”

Oliver said that HHS will be more ouspoken once the request for proposal analysis is completed in May. When the final design is approvedshortly there after, Oakville will get its first glimpse into what the new hospital will actually look like when the doors open in 2015.

“This is a much-needed project for Oakville,” he said. “It’s a very exciting.”

 For information about the new Oakville hospital, visit www.newoakvillehosptial.com