Milton Hospital Expansion Approved!

Its been a busy day for a number of reasons. I was at the announcement today along with several of our town councillors, MPP Ted Chudleigh, Liberal candidates Indiria Naidoo Harris, Friends of Milton Hospital, doctors and nurses, and staff and volunteers. Quite emotional. I had to leave because we had a medical emergency with our cat Chester. He was in a fight on the weekend and developed a massive infection which burst today and my son called in a panic. (Chesters had his surgery and is doing ok, we’ll be picking him up soon)

I put together a few thoughts, and once things settle down at home, I’ll post more…and probably add more people to thank so I dont leave anyone out.

EDIT:  As Colin Best reminded me on the Hawthorne Villager I forgot someone important.  Regional Chair Gary Carr has also played a very strong role in getting meetings scheduled with cabinet ministers during the recent AMO Conference in London and also bringing up Milton’s needs at every possible opportunity.  Thank you Gary!!!

Here is the video from today courtesy of Brian Best (thanks for the vid…it was a historic day in Milton and I’m glad it was captured)

Today was a great day for Milton with the announcement of the hospital expansion earlier today. Many thanks to a LOT of people.

To the doctors and nurses and volunteers and staff of Milton Hospital…thank you. You were the ones under the gun over the last several years and despite everything seemingly against you, you have ALL done an amazing job.

The tears of joy I witnessed from the staff at MDH said it all.

To John Oliver and Alan Halls THANK YOU for your leadership and persistence in this matter. Everyone at Halton Healthcare Services has been a strong advocate for Milton and our needs and you have lead the charge.

To Friends of Milton Hospital, THANK YOU. Over 36,000 signatures were collected and presented to the government to let them know, THIS was the issue in town.

To my fellow council members, THANK YOU. Everytime we had the ear of a provincial minister of govt, we brought the Milton Hospital expansion to their attention. Theres a reason why Minister Deb Matthews mentioned our persistence.

To my colleagues on the Grow Milton Hospital campaign, THANK YOU! We helped in keeping the pressure up and we saw the end result in mind. Todays announcement was a result of a lot of people and the residents of Milton…THANK YOU.

There is also MPP Ted Chudleigh to thank for his years of work on this with the provincial government. John Oliver made mention in his speech of Ted’s efforts on raising awareness over the last several years, and while colourful at times, his passion for Halton residents in Milton was unwaivering. THANK YOU Ted!

Now the hard work begins. We WILL do this together and with everyones support from all sides … the job will get done.

What would you ask them?

Next week will be my first AMO (Associations of Municipalities of Ontario)Conference.  Its going to be held in London this year and goes from Sunday August 21st to Wednesday the 24th.

The conference is designed for municipal leaders from all over the province to meet and discuss issues and share knowledge and resources to help come up with solutions to problems.  There’s going to be roughly 1600 politicians running around London (sounds scary doesn’t it 🙂 ) for those days and I’m personally looking forward to a number of events that will be happening over the course of the conference.

Most importantly to me is some of the meetings that have been scheduled with provincial representatives by Regional Chair Gary Carr and ministers in the Province of Ontario.  I along with other Milton & Halton councillors will be attending these meetings.  This will provide us with an opportunity to speak directly with those ministers, mainly the Minister of Health Deb Matthews and Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli.  If those names sound familiar, you must have been reading my blog on a regular basis. 

These ministers are two of the key decision makers when it comes to getting a green light for the Milton Hospital expansion.  There have been meetings in the past, of course with no firm date or timeframe given to us, but hopefully we can “twist their arms” slightly in getting something done.  It is no secret in Milton that the expansion of the Milton District Hospital is “THE” issue in town.  

Week after week, organization after organization holds events in support of MDHF and the importance of supporting our local hospital.  Thousands of dollars has been raised for the foundation and even more will come with future events.

Regional Councillor Colin Best wrote a letter to the ministers via the Milton Canadian Champion recently outlining our concerns once again with the lack of detail in their latest “capital project projections”

If there is one issue that everyone in Milton can unite behind its the hospital.  We as elected officials in Milton have to keep up the pressure.  Its been well documented on my site about the efforts of the  Friends of Milton Hospital a few years ago and most recently the Grow Milton Hospital campaign and the numbers of signatures that have been collected and delivered to the Province of Ontario letting our voices be heard that we need that expansion to start now.

Unofficially the Town of Milton is over 90,000 in population with 100,000 in our sights.  The hospital continues to be under intense pressure to be able to deliver the health care services that Milton needs.  Beds are in short number, the nurses and doctors are doing their best but without the facilities needed to serve a growing population, it runs the risk of a disaster happening.

I’m hoping at this meeting, myself along with other Milton and Halton councillors can convince these provincial ministers (it IS a provincial election year mind you) to get off the fence and approve the expansion of Milton’s hospital.   There will also be opportunities to speak with the provincial party leaders as well during this conference (Dalton Mcguinty, Tim Hudak, Andrea Horvath) and rest assure I will be “badgering” them as well over the course of the four days.

If you have any comments or questions you would like me to pass on to the Health Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, please email me mike@mikecluett.ca and I will ask them directly when we meet with them.

Response From Infrastructure Minister Coming

As reported on her Twitter account, Christina Commisso @C_Commisso (who is one of the reporters for the Milton Canadian Champion) sent out a message yesterday saying that the Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiraelli responded to the article “Councillors Disappointed with Infrastructure Plan

You can read my response to the article here in my post called “Hey Bob! Read OUR Lips

Call me a cynic, but I’m not expecting a full time line report from the Minister but hopefully we will get a clearer idea of when any possible expansion of Milton District Hospital will happen.  Its not that it should happen, its that it HAS to happen.  Miltonians deserve an answer or at least a timeline of when things will begin to move forward.

Milton Council needs to have answers.  There are a lot of issues financially that we are facing with our 2012 budget about hospital expansion reserve accounts and other projects that need help from the province that we need to address and we at the town and the Region of Halton have done our work…we just need the province to take some action.

Regional Councillor Colin Best has also expressed his frustration about the plan.  The Region has been working on getting ROPA 39 approved (something the province requires) so we can continue with the long range planning and with the province and if its not approved it can put the town and the region in a difficult position at the provincial level.  At our last council meeting the measure passed…just barely.  Again, we are doing what we can to send a message to the province that we need them to step up to the plate.

I’ll update the blog later on today when we get a chance to read his response.  Cross your fingers folks.

Hey Bob! Read OUR Lips!

GROW MILTON HOSPITAL!

I read with interest an article in the Champion last week called “Councillors disappointed with infrastructure plan”  Click on the link to read it in full.

Disappointed isn’t the word.  In addition to Regional Councillor Colin Best’s comments, I also spoke about the lack of detail in this report and despite the Town’s efforts in keeping the province “in the loop” we have been kept in the dark.  And its not just Milton municipal councillors who are disappointed with the plan, or lack thereof.  Its the hundreds of mayors, regional & local councillors who are scratching their heads at the vagueness of the capital infrastructure plan recently released by the Provincial government.

The report called “Building Together” was supposed to outline a list of municipalities and their important infrastructure projects that would be green lighted by the province, such as expansion of Milton District Hospital, growing our university / college campuses (Milton Education Village) and other much needed road developments.

Instead we got a “we promise” document.  We promise that the provincial government will help fund these projects.  We promise.

When politicians utter the words “we promise” taxpayers roll their eyes.  Been there…done that.  Tell us something new.

It’s with that in mind I chuckled when I read the comments from Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli when he said the following:

“People know what our commitment is,” he (Chiarelli) said. “Read my lips, we mean business.”

Personally speaking, I really don’t know what to do with that comment.  I remember a certain US President who made the same “read my lips” promise and it came back to bite him in the old hindquarters.  He claims people know what the governments commitment is.  How can the people of Milton know what the provinces commitments are if they are not outlined.

And really when it comes down to it, Bob is a former Mayor of Ottawa and if anyone could understand what the cities and towns in Ontario are going through right now its him.

When the Town of Milton is asked to put forward a 10 year capital projection at budget time, we do.  The budget has a list of projects that are slated to begin, the time they are ready to go, and the approximate financial commitments needed to complete that project.  The same can be said for the Region of Halton and in fact, every municipality does this.  Why cant the Province of Ontario do the same?

The Premier of Ontario recently prorouged Queens Park for the summer and with a provincial election slated for October 6th, its highly unlikely they will be back to work at Queens Park any time soon.  Therefore the taxpayers of Milton must wait on pins and needles to see if this government will announce any projects before that time.  In fact its more likely we will hear something, if anything AFTER the election in October.

This will now put the timeline for the expansion of Milton District Hospital even further behind.

“Read my lips, we mean business.”

A little history lesson for you Bob just in case you missed it the first time around.  The minister of health Deb Matthews can also listen in as well as the Premier.

Between the Friends of Milton campaign a few years ago where over 35,000 signatures were secured from Milton residents and delivered to the health ministers office to the most recent Grow Milton Hospital campaign, where over 6,000 signatures were collected in a matter of weeks, Milton residents have been trying to let you know that we mean business.  Our council even installed a hospital expansion levy on our taxpayers (you know my feelings on THAT issue) in the hopes it would let the provincial government know we meant business too.  We as a town have done everything possible to raise the awareness of this problem that can affect the delivery of health care services to the people of Milton.  Instead we get a “read my lips” response.

The population of Milton is approaching 100,000 people and the last expansion at MDH took place back in 1987 when the population was 30,000.  Even then the current facilities were too small for that number and it wont be able to sustain itself much longer.  The infrastrucutre within the hospital is falling apart.  The hosptial recently got a new piece of equipment to sterilize medical instruments and it couldnt work because the electical system couldnt handle it and the installation was delayed by a couple of weeks.

Alan Halls from Halton Healthcare Services and John Oliver have made plea after plea to the province to green light the expansion of the hospital because the system will not be able to sustain itself at the current rate of growth.  The Milton Town Council has repeatedly sent you reports on the status of our growth, mandated by the provincial government, and the possible effects on our schools, roads and the hospital.

Expert after expert has told the LHIN and the Ministry of Health that the expansion of Milton Hospital is needed NOW.  The people of the town of Milton have told you endlessly that the expansion of Milton Hospital is needed NOW.  There are hundreds of signs on the lawns of the people of Milton that say “The Time is NOW! Grow Milton Hospital!”  As a local councillor in Milton I get stopped in the street, I receive emails and get phone calls from residents asking when will it happen…when will it start?

Read OUR lips Bob!  We mean business as well. 

Milton isn’t by far in the worst situation when it comes to hospitals and the delivery of health care services to their residents.  We know that!  What the taxpayers have seen over the last 8 years is $1 Billion wasted on EHealth (imagine what that money could have done to expand hospital facilities) and other programs, while we sit back and watch our hospital crumble before our eyes.  The doctors and nurses in Milton Hospital are doing the best they can given the circumstances.  Something has to give soon.  We only hope that a life isn’t put into danger before something happens with the expansion.

The Town of Milton has committed to providing the local share thats needed for the hospital expansion.  We dont have an amount yet and that can happen only if the project gets green-lighted by the province and we can get started in the planning.  When that happens, we will consult with Miltonians on the best direction to raise that local share.  We’re ready to go!  Just give us the green light!

Read our lips Bob!  Grow Milton Hospital!

The List Is Out AND?

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

The Provincial Government has released its 10 year capital forecast for infrastructure projects (for things like HOSPITALS, GO Transit etc.) and despite the efforts of thousands of Miltonians, Halton Healthcare Services and countless numbers of pleas, there is nothing in this report regarding a green light for the expansion of Milton District Hospital.

The link is here if you’d like to skim through it.

It provides few details of hospitals that “COULD” receive funding over the next few years based on the ability of the government to pay for it.  Can you say “election promises”?  Here’s how its worded…”Completing the 27 major hospital projects under construction, and continuing to invest in hospital expansions and redevelopment projects, subject to fiscal capacity.” AND “Investing in three to five major hospital expansions and redevelopment projects each year, subject to fiscal capacity.” (page v of the report)

Through all the discussions in the last year or so regarding hospital levy’s and how they were supposed to help us get where we need to go, rally’s and reasons to go and not to go and those of us (me mostly) to “play nice” when it comes to putting pressure on the provincial government to open their eyes and “get off their duff” and do something about it….all of that didnt work.

Council was sold on the hospital levy that it will help. It didnt. That idea failed. Period. Full stop.

“Be nice” Mike…I was told. “Dont rock the boat.” I complied.

All of that proved to be unsuccessful in the grand scheme of things as Ive gone through that report and found NOTHING regarding Milton’s hospital.

Its provincial election time. And my gloves are off. Im hoping that those who said theyll be in line to drive the bus to Queens Park and protest hold true to their promises because now is the time to rattle some cages.

Its gone beyond silly side remarks to the premier when he drops into town for at Tweetup. I got him to say “Milton Hospital Expansion” which was cute and all, but does nothing when it comes to the big picture.

The level of frustration that I and thousands of Miltonians are feeling right now is beyond words. Im tired of tip-toeing around things and I hope the other community leaders feel the same way. It seems the way things “should be done” dont work.

I want everyone, regardless of party youll be supporting in the next election, PC, Liberal, NDP, GREEN, RHINO, Pancake…whatever it is. If you have a sign on your lawn, make sure you have a GROW MILTON HOSPITAL to go along with it

The GROW MILTON HOSPITAL campaign, despite others saying it was “political” simply wasnt. It wasnt meant to promote any particular party and it again wont be. It simply has to be said to any candidate, Ted, Indira, (cant remember the name of the NDP if theres one) or anyone else that walks through this riding that the hospital needs to be greenlighted and NOW. If any of the party leaders fly through town for photo ops they will be met with ME and hopefully a few others with GROW MILTON HOSPTIAL signs and demands of a FIRM date for green lighting the expansion. Nothing else will be accepted.

With this delay, it puts us even MORE behind the 8 ball when it comes to the delivery of health care services in this town. We need a made in Milton solution for our hospital as others that are being built in the surrounding areas ARENT designed for growth in other regions.

Evidence has been presented forever and a day with the need for growth at MDH and its been ignored. Thanks but no thanks.

We’ve had senior members of the provincial govt through town from the infrastructure minister, to the health minister to the premier and MUMS the word. They knew nothing was going to be done. Any mention of the hospital expansion and either theyre whisked away to question period or they blurt out lines like “er….uh….we’re looking at it” Whatever.

Sorry that Im venting but reading through this report and thinking back to all the comments I got from others saying “be nice…it’ll happen…this will help …dont you worry.” Well, we now see where that got us.

ZILCH.