This marks the third time in a year where a “high profile” member of the Ontario government has visited Milton to make a speech and failed to acknowledge the importance of the expansion of Milton District Hospital.
Earlier this year at the Mayors Breakfast for the Milton Chamber of Commerce, Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli also spoke at lengths about what the McGuinty government has done, but failed to even mention the number one issue in Milton.
Before that Premier Dalton McGuinty was asked directly about Milton’s chances for hospital expansion given the fact that council had approved at 1% tax levy for the hospital expansion reserve account and he replied with this…
“It’s obviously a sign of a strong committment on the part of the community, but I think that there is a lot of factors that we have to take into account when it comes to what we’re going to put something next.”
“At this point in time, we’re talking about a long term plan and none of those decisions have been made yet. One of the things we have to look at is where do we go going forward with respect to our capital plan.”
Now we have the other minister responsible for making the decision on the expansion of MDH failing to mention it.
Disappointment doesnt cover what the people of Milton are thinking right now.
It was what Ontario Health and Longterm Care Minister Deb Matthews didn’t say that sparked discussion following her quick departure from a shortened version of her ‘Women and Politics’ speech, hosted Wednesday morning by Liberal provincial candidate Indira Naidoo-Harris.
Disappointment was expressed among the small group assembled at Casa Americo Italian Restaurant that Matthews didn’t touch on some of the subjects they had hoped, including the proposed Milton District Hospital (MDH) expansion.
As Matthews was hastened into her waiting vehicle by ministry staff to address a matter of urgency in Question Period, Naidoo-Harris assured those in attendance that she had invited the minister to tour MDH in the near future and mentioned the 18 new hospitals built since the Liberals took office in 2003.
With a slideshow operating behind her, Matthews introduced herself as a mother and grandmother, factors, she said, that influence her decisions as head of one of the largest ministries in the provincial government and one of the many influential women in the Liberal caucus. She interspersed talk about government costs and savings and initiatives with comments about the influence and values women bring to their positions.
“Women bring different experiences, different priorities to the job,” she said. “We want more women and are absolutely committed to bringing more women into caucus.”
When she looks into the eyes of her four grandchildren, Matthews said she sees not just their potential, but that of all Ontario children, and it’s the government’s job to ensure the province’s youth have what they need to reach that potential.
“Education is the key to unlocking that potential,” said Matthews.
She identified the Liberals’ full day kindergarten initiative as a courageous one in tough economic times. Currently there are 35,000 children enrolled in full day kindergarten and the plan is to implement it into all Ontario schools by 2014. So far, said Matthews, the children enrolled are “very much up to the job” and it represents a savings in daycare costs to parents.
Decreasing high school dropout rates and increasing post-secondary enrollment represent tremendous improvements in education in the province, she said.
“And we wouldn’t be talking about poverty reduction if not for women in caucus,” said Matthews, crediting Liberal tax changes and an increase to the minimum wage for boosting the incomes of struggling single moms working fulltime. “This takes us back to education; we have to ensure children get the education they need to break the cycle of poverty.
“If we didn’t have a strong caucus of women we wouldn’t have this kind of social justice.”
Shaving hundreds of millions off the cost of drugs, increasing Ontarians access to primary care, adding more long-term care beds and improving seniors’ programs to allow them to stay in their own homes longer are other successful and ongoing Liberal initiatives on her ministry’s agenda, said Matthews. “Maybe it takes a woman to understand you have to shake things up and do what’s right.”