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

Milton Strawberry Fair June 23rd

Its that time of year again folks. The best combination is summer time and strawberries.

On June 23rd will be the 32nd annual Strawberry Fair at the Milton Fairgrounds in support of the Milton District Hospital Auxiliary.   For more details you can visit this page.  Thousands of people attend every year for some strawberries and ice cream as well as sample from vendors across the region.

Fun for the whole family – bouncy castles, games, prizes, baking, vendors marketplace, rides, entertainment, strawberries, ice-cream, shortcake and daiquiris all day!

Strawberry pancake breakfast by The Optimist Club of Milton

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience one of Milton’s great traditions and make sure you attend this years Strawberry Fair in support of the Milton District Hospital.

McHappy Day In Milton A Success

WOW!  Thats all I have to say.  Thank you to everyone who took part in the McHappy Day in Milton on May 2nd. 

The McDonalds restaurant was packed from noon onwards.  I was privilegedto be a part of a wonderful event.  You might have seen me near the drive thru’s asking for your change and smiles. 🙂 Everyone was so generous in purchasing “boots” for the wall, balloons for the kids and simply taking your spare change and dollar bills and donating it to the cause. 

One of the McDonalds employees Mark shared some great information with me today:

Hey Mike, Just thought I would share some numbers with you from Yesterday’s McHappy Day here in Milton. We raised $8294.00 for the Milton District Hospital Foundation & Ronald McDonald House Hamilton!!! That blows away last year’s total by over $2700!! We sold the most Happy Meal’s out of any of the 1400 McDonald’s stores in Canada for the 3rd year in a row! Hopefully I will have a solid number for donations across Canada by mid afternoon!

Thanks again for your Support! Hope to see you around town!

That total is awesome and thanks to Mark for posting that on my Facebook Page.  (You can go there too, click LIKE and be informed of things that are going on in Milton that affect you.)

In addtion to myself, other local officials came out to help including Mayor Gord Krantz, Brian Penman, Greg Nelson, Rick Di Lorenzo, Arnold Huffman (and if Ive missed any Im sorry) as well as KISS 92.5FM Host (and local Miltonian) SCOTT FOX was there too.  Scotts a trooper as hes always on the end of my jokes because of his boyish good looks 🙂

Lets keep up the good work Milton and hope that next years total is over $10,000!!!!

 

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.