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.

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.”

Halton Provincial Candidates Have to Answer Region’s Questions

Halton Region to question local election candidates

Some of the first questions posed to Halton’s provincial candidates will come from the Region itself.

This week, Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr will send a questionnaire to MPP hopefuls in Milton, Oakville, Halton Hills and Burlington for their take on Halton’s most pressing election issues.

Asked what’s at the top of the list, Carr said the $8.6 billion in future infrastructure needs comes to mind. “We want to ensure water and waste water facilities, regional roads, provincial schools and hospitals will be there for our population.”

Halton’s population is expected to double to 780,000 by 2031.

In the last month, Milton’s, Burlington’s and Halton Hills’ hospital expansions have been given the go-ahead from the Province, but Carr said he’d like promises that all the hospital projects will come to fruition. “The government could change. It could be a minority (government). We’re asking all candidates about the hospitals. We don’t want the plans to change as a result of the election.”

Carr said expanding Hwy. 401 through Halton and ensuring schools keep up with the bourgeoning young population are also priorities.

The document, ‘A strong Halton for a strong Ontario,’ was released earlier this summer and serves as an advocacy platform that sets out the Region’s position on key issues impacting residents.

Some of the requests of Ontario’s next government in the report include a complete review of the Development Charges Act and fast-tracking Metrolinx projects with 100 per cent provincial funding for GO Transit.

The report also places a strong emphasis on preserving Halton’s natural landscape and outlines Halton’s opposition to the proposed GTA West and Niagara to GTA corridors, further quarry expansion on the escarpment and asks for a provincial commitment to the Randle Reef clean up.

Similar questionnaires were sent to candidates in the last provincial election and during May’s federal election.

Carr said during those campaigns, close to every candidate took the time to fill out the questionnaires. “It helps create a dialogue. They (candidates) know what’s important to us, they will know what our issues are and that’s important as people look for a good candidate.”

Carr added that the questionnaire serves as a mechanism to ensure candidates stick to their word if elected.

Completed questionnaires will be posted at throughout September.

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.”

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.

Infrastructure Minister Responds!

Here is the long awaited response from Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli via a letter to the editor in the Milton Canadian Champion. 

As the readers of my website will know, I have been demanding answers from the provincial level of government in Ontario to find out when Milton District Hospital will be expanded.  Over the last several years many groups of citizens, levels of government and Halton Healthcare services has been trying to convince the LHIN’s and the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Premier of Ontario that Milton needs to have a hospital expansion.

The statistics are endless in our arguement that something needs to have been done a long time ago and must happen now.  Halton Healthcare Services has made many presentations to council over the last while outlining the drastic need for expansion in a hospital that is designed for a population of 30,000 while Milton now is approaching 100,000.

The Friends of Milton Hospital collected over 35,000 signatures on post cards a couple of years back and delivered them to the Health Ministers office.  Recently the Grow Milton Hospital Campaign submitted a petition to Queens Park with over 6,000 signatures collected in a matter of weeks.

The Provincial government promised the over 95 plus municipalities who are in similar, if not worse situations that Milton is in a detailed 10 year capital project list after the budget this past spring.  The list was “coming soon” and I along with other Miltonians received tweets from the Premier’s press secretary saying the LHIN”s and the Ministry were “working on it” and something would be coming soon.

At the end of June, after months of promises, the provincial government released the Building Together plan outlining their priorities.  The problem is there was no detail included.  The town of Milton, the Region of Halton and for that matter every municipality has to detail their capital plans, with lists of projects, time lines, prices and how we’re going to pay for it.  Thats a requirement the Provincial Government has for municipalities.  We didn’t get a plan.  We got promises.

You cant blame myself and the other municipal leaders in this town for being disappointed and frustrated.  This has been an ongoing issue for many years and I for one am puzzled at the lack of committment the Province has for healthcare in Ontario.

The people of Milton are frustrated.  You only have to bring up the hospital in conversation and blood pressures around the room begin to rise.  At last nights town hall meeting when we discussed the hospital expansion levy and the potential expansion of MDH, residents were confused as to why nothing was being done for so long and why we as a municipality can’t do anything to speed it up.

All we are looking for Minister Chiarelli, Minister Matthews & Premier McGuinty is the green light.  We are ready to go with the plan that’s needed to help improve the delivery of health care services in Milton.  The hospital and the doctors and nurses within are stretched to the limit and even though they haven’t hit the breaking point…its getting close.  The Town of Milton would like to put a plan into place so that we can fund our portion of the hospital expansion.  We’re ready to consult with them to find the best solution possible for that funding.  We are at the starting line…waiting for the green light.

The Town of Milton along with the Region of Halton is trying to build a community where people can live, learn, work and play.  We want families to chose Milton for its great amenities, the schools, the restaurants, the places to work and learn at our education village and to be able to have a medical facility that can handle the current and future health care needs of its residents.

The time is now!  Grow Milton Hospital!

Ontario Government committed to Milton

Dear Editor:

Re: June 30 story entitled ‘Councillors disappointed with infrastructure plan.’

Milton councillors criticized Building Together, Ontario’s first ever long-term infrastructure plan, for a perceived lack of detail.

They’re correct to point out that our government must tackle the province’s infrastructure deficit. Over the last six years, the Ontario government has invested an average of $10 billion annually in infrastructure.

Our commitment to schools, hospitals and roads is clear in Halton and across Ontario. Ontario’s infrastructure investments since 2003 total $62 billion, creating 600,000 jobs — including 620 jobs in Milton. We have committed $35 billion for the first three years of Building Together to continue our work.

Needless to say, we mean business.

The Dalton McGuinty government’s record is the best indication of what we’ll do for Milton’s infrastructure. Milton is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the country. That’s why we have invested more than $34 million in dozens of infrastructure projects since 2003, including the Milton Centre for the Arts, Milton Sports Centre expansion and the widening of Tremaine Road.  

We recognize the need to plan for future growth as well. That’s why we have provided more than $4 million in growth funding to Halton Healthcare Services, and a $1.5 million planning and design grant to Milton District Hospital to help further develop its expansion proposal.

The McGuinty government is also helping municipalities build their own infrastructure by uploading municipal services. When uploading is fully implemented in 2018, Halton Region will save an estimated $22.5 million per year.

Since 2004, the McGuinty government has also transferred $2.4 million to Milton for public transit funding (formerly known as gas tax revenue). We will continue to ensure Milton gets its fair share.

Through Premier McGuinty’s mandate, our government has built, expanded, and modernized hospitals, schools, community centres and public transit across the province — creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and making a positive difference for Ontarians. Building Together is a commitment and strategic plan to continue these investments in Milton and across Ontario.

Bob Chiarelli, Infrastructure Minister, Government of Ontario