Health unit collaboration augurs new direction for healthcare in Elgin and Oxford


city_scope_logo-cmykThe governing bodies of the health units in St. Thomas/Elgin and Oxford county on Jan. 10 approved proceeding to the next level in merging the two bodies.
Locally, the health unit is the governing body and so municipal councils in St. Thomas and Elgin were not involved in any vote to move forward with the merger, whereas in Oxford the county serves as the governing body and municipal council had to approve a motion to proceed.
To be known as Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit, the new entity would serve approximately 204,000 residents.
A new, autonomous board would be composed of four representatives from Oxford and two each from St. Thomas and Elgin county. Continue reading

Advertisements

Why would the owner of a supportive living facility choose to adopt an alias?


city_scope_logo-cmykVishal Chityal, owner of Walnut Manor in St. Thomas, was the subject of discussion in the Ontario Legislature on May 18, 2017. We have focused on the supportive living facility the past couple of weeks and again four years ago when the kitchen was shut down by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
Here are excerpts from the Hansard transcript from that day featuring an impassioned presentation from Welland MPP Cindy Forster, author of private member’s Bill 135, an act to establish a framework for the licensing of supportive living accommodation.
More details on Bill 135 in a moment, but first here is MPP Forster’s back story on Chityal. Continue reading

She could go in and go nuts on them, but to what end?


city_scope_logo-cmykThe notion, upon first hearing it, is almost absurd. Nearly four years ago, City Scope referred to it as entirely counter-intuitive. Let an absentee owner off the hook and reach out to the community instead for their help and support.
But, that is exactly the approach lawyer Elena Dempsey was proposing in June of 2014 to turn things around at Walnut Manor — an independent supportive living home operated by Niagara Supportive Living in Welland.
Well, a lengthy conversation this past Wednesday (Jan. 3) with the lawyer at Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic in St. Thomas confirmed Dempsey is just as passionate.
She had visited the group home at 57 Walnut Street just before Christmas to drop off gifts for the 18 or so residents and found the facility just as dreary and depressing as ever. The food, appalling not appealing. Continue reading

Do what is necessary to provide appropriate care for our most vulnerable citizens


city_scope_logo-cmykWe picked up the cause last week of a Lambton Shores woman whose father was a resident of Walnut Manor, an independent supportive living home in St. Thomas.
In 2014, we documented the plight of the 14 residents of the Walnut Street facility who were being served such culinary delights as what was called pasta salad, consisting of macaroni and salad dressing. Or chicken wieners served on plain white bread for lunch.
An advocate for the residents at the time, lawyer Elena Dempsey, described the situation in this fashion.
“They run out of food and when they run out of food they concoct the most bizarre meals. I was told of one meal that consisted of spaghetti with instant mashed potatoes on top and mushroom soup poured on top of it.”
Mmmmm, nothing says satisfying like chef’s surprise. Continue reading

A repeat of appalling not appealing at Walnut Manor?


city_scope_logo-cmykThis is a horrible time of year to revisit this story. But can there ever be a good time to tackle what has been described as warehousing of our most vulnerable residents?
In June of 2014, this corner profiled a disturbing situation at Walnut Manor, an independent supportive living home in St. Thomas operated by Niagara Supportive Living of Welland.
Fourteen residents in the home were served up meals described as appalling not appealing by St. Thomas lawyer Elena Dempsey.
She had become an advocate for the residents and was reaching out to the community for their help and support to turn things around at Walnut Manor.
Things had gotten so bad, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health shut the kitchen down for three days.
Four-and-a-half years later and it would appear history is repeating itself. Continue reading

St. Thomas F-18 pilot helping ensure Santa’s safe transit through Canadian airspace


A St. Thomas pilot will be flying high with the big guy Christmas Eve. Capt. Kevin Mittelholtz from 401 tactical fighter squadron, Cold Lake, Alberta, will serve as an escort pilot accompanying Santa across western Canada as he delivers gifts for good little girls and boys
The 27-year-old Mittelholtz is one of four CF-18 pilots who will serve as Santa’s wingmen on this most important of assignments. The St. Joseph’s High School grad will be a key member of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) team chosen to ensure St. Nick enjoys a safe journey from the North Pole across the country. Continue reading

Capping community grants the opening salvo in 2018 mayoral race?


city_scope_logo-cmykIt was a budget body slam last night (Dec. 18) in the council chamber at city hall. A bloc of five councillors sent a clear message to Mayor Heather Jackson as to who is behind the wheel on budget deliberations. Or at least the community grant portion of the 2018 city budget.
Councillors Steve Wookey, Joan Rymal, Mark Burgess, Mark Tinlin and Gary Clarke voted to adopt the budget as is. The 2018 financial roadmap for the city included a $60,000 cap on community grants to any one group or organization.
Jackson is opposed to a grant cap and therefore was in opposition to approving the budget as is.
She did a little politicking of her own by asking for a recorded vote so those associated with the Talbot Teen Centre (TTC) and St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre – two pet projects – would be well aware of her sympathy. Continue reading

Are we being led down the wrong rabbit path on utility marriage? Or, how to distinguish a merger from a fire sale.


city_scope_logo-cmykDid you check out the notice in your latest St. Thomas Energy bill? Seems like the utility merger with Entegrus out of Chatham-Kent is moving toward consummation early in the new year, with the new entity to be known as Entegrus Powerlines.
I guess when you only have a 20 per cent piece of the pie you don’t have any say in naming the beast.
And by coincidence, the merger is the subject of a report from city manager Wendell Graves on Monday’s council agenda.
It’s chock full of legalese and ratepayers have the right to a clear explanation of what is about to transpire on the eve of the merger.
More important, what are the long-term financial implications because this appears to be less a merger and more a fire sale.
So, we chatted with Graves on Friday as to what members of council are being asked to vote on as our elected representatives. Continue reading

No islands in these streams, just a series of HR obstacles


city_scope_logo-cmykCongratulations are in order to Elizabeth Sebestyen, confirmed this week as the Director of Social Services for St. Thomas and Elgin county.
She has been acting director since 2013 and has worked for the department since 2001.
And why did it take so long to announce the permanent appointment?
Well you won’t get any answers at city hall, because it involved a protracted labour relations tribunal dealing with a wrongful dismissal claim by former director Barbara Arbuckle, hired in 2011.
A conversation a year ago with city manager Wendell Graves revealed the following.
“I can’t say a lot but she’s (Sebestyen) still the acting director and Barbara is still on leave.” Continue reading

Shedden’s Lorne Spicer has more than delivered


Parkwood Veterans Memoirsjpg“You might call it bragging, but I got the job done and it wasn’t easy.”
Long-time Shedden resident Lorne Spicer might have been recounting his work with minor hockey, the community’s Rosy Rhubarb Festival or his tireless efforts with the St. Thomas Field Naturalists and the Southwold War Memorial Committee.
Spicer certainly went above and beyond the call of duty with all of those undertakings.
And those achievements would be in keeping with his favourite piece of advice.
“When you make up your mind to do something, just do it.”
And three days before becoming an officer in the RCAF, he wrote in his log book he wanted to become an above average navigator.
His assessment after the fact?
“I delivered.” Continue reading

Can a bus ride begin the journey out of poverty?


city_scope_logo-cmykAmong the positive steps taken this year in St. Thomas to help mitigate poverty’s impact on Ontario Works recipients was the introduction in February of the Bus Pass Pilot Project.
Under this scheme, recipients seeking employment would have access to a monthly bus pass, recognizing “Access to reliable and affordable transportation is integral to a person’s ability to gain and maintain employment, to access health care, recreational, educational and social activities among other things.”
That is according to a report from Heather Sheridan, supervisor of employment and income supports, to be discussed at Monday’s council meeting.
She is asking council to continue the bus pass program and extend it further to include sole support parents and their children. Continue reading

Dalewood bridge deemed unsafe; closed permanently


Many north-end St. Thomas residents will have to adjust their driving habits as of today (Nov. 30).
Following an inspection Wednesday, the Dalewood bridge has been deemed unsafe and is now closed permanently.
dalewoodjpgThe Bailey bridge was installed at Dalewood Dam as a temporary structure in 1983 at a cost of $35,000. It was due to be replaced with a new, two-lane bridge featuring a multi-use path incorporated into the design at a cost of $4.5 million.
Dalewood bridge conceptual cross-sectionjpgCity manager Wendell Graves said construction of the new bridge will begin next spring and will not be moved up due to today’s closure.
Detour routes will be posted for motorists.

Related posts:

New Dalewood bridge gives city a creative opportunity

Permanent solution to a temporary fix

Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope

Visit us on Facebook

city_scope_logo-cmyk

Inquest called into death of St. Thomas flagman


An inquest has been called into the death of a St. Thomas man killed while directing traffic at a construction site on the Hwy. 3 bypass.
Brian Daniel deathjpgOn July 2, 2014, 55-year-old Brian Daniel was flagging vehicles around a boom crane obstructing traffic in the westbound lane of the bypass at Burwell Road.
He was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by a 46-year-old Aylmer man, who was charged with dangerous driving causing death.
An inquest is mandatory under the Coroners Act, and Dr. Rick Mann, Regional Supervising Coroner for West Region, London Office, announced Monday it will begin Feb. 5th, 2018 at the Elgin County Courthouse in St. Thomas.
It is expected to last four days and hear from approximately eight witnesses.
The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.

Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope

Visit us on Facebook

 

city_scope_logo-cmyk

Will transit continue to take a back seat in St. Thomas?


city_scope_logo-cmykFor those who rely on St. Thomas Transit, change may be a passenger in the coming year.
The transit contract with Voyageur – originally in effect Jan. 1, 2012 – expires at the end of the year and the city has the option to enter into a three-year extension.
The transit system was up for discussion at council’s Nov. 20 reference committee meeting at city hall, where the director of environmental services, Justin Lawrence, brought mayor and council up to speed on the five-route system.
In 1989 the hub and spoke system operated with traditional transit buses on a 45-minute cycle over a 14-hour day, Monday through Saturday.
Today, the same hub and spoke system operates 11.5 hours per day (except Sunday) on a 30-minute cycle utilizing buses not far removed from RV’s that struggle to remain in one piece over what appears to be a five-year life span. Continue reading

So, this guy comes up to me and asks, ‘When is the next bus to St. Thomas?’


city_scope_logo-cmykWhile this country’s passenger train network has been picked clean to the bone like so much road kill, Toronto transportation writer and policy adviser Greg Gormick notes it is no coincidence the topic of rail travel ebbs and flows with the election tide.
His clients have included CP, CN, VIA and numerous elected officials and government transportation agencies.
One of his latest undertakings has him consulting for Oxford County to document concerns about the province’s high-speed rail (HSR) proposal linking Toronto with London and eventually Windsor.
Gormick warns HSR will further contribute to the decline of VIA passenger rail service to Woodstock, Ingersoll, Brantford, Stratford, St. Marys and other communities in the region. Continue reading

Mergers are all about creating efficiencies, so who will be left at the alter in health unit marriage?


city_scope_logo-cmykFriday’s announcement of the proposed merger of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health – which aligns with the province’s call for fewer health units with autonomous boards – is, no doubt, intended to create efficiencies.
Such is the desired effect of any merger, no matter the business sector.
To quote the media release, the two health units “began exploring a potential merger as a way of working towards a strong, unified rural voice for public health in Ontario.”
To further quote from the release, “The intent to merge was formalized through a letter of intent signed by Oxford County Warden David Mayberry on November 8 and Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Chair Bernie Wiehle on November 9. The letter of intent commits both organizations to a review of each other’s finances, operations and assets; to equally sharing any costs associated with the merger; and to pursuing the necessary statutory and regulatory change at the provincial level before the merger becomes official.” Continue reading

Community engagement is critical for the new hand at police helm


city_scope_logo-cmykA raft of announcements emanating from the latest Police Services Board meeting held mid-October, including Deputy Chief Jeff Driedger announcing his retirement, to take effect some time next year.
That triggered the board to approve the contract of Chris Herridge as new police chief, effective Jan. 1 of 2018 and running through to February of 2024.
In conjunction with that announcement, Insp. Marc Roskamp will become acting Deputy Chief, with no increase in salary until he officially assumes the role on April 1, 2018.
Staff Sgt. Scott Barnes is promoted to acting inspector effective Jan. 1 of next year with no increase in salary until he officially is promoted on April 1, 2018.
And, Const. Chris Johnson will be promoted to acting sergeant at the beginning of the new year, again with no increase in salary until he officially is promoted on April 1, 2018.
We talked at length with the new police chief on Friday as he assumes the leadership role vacated by former chief Darryl Pinnell. Continue reading

Veterans Memorial Garden: Honouring those who never really came home


city_scope_logo-cmykIf you were unable to attend this morning’s (Oct. 28) dedication ceremony, you owe it to yourself to visit Veterans Memorial Garden on Moore Street.
Chairman Herb Warren and his memorial committee – Worth Chisholm, Douglas Nicholson, Coun. Mark Tinlin, Shelly Haycock, Ron Smith and Allan Weatherall – have created a beautiful downtown sanctuary in honour of the men and women who have served and gave their lives in past conflicts.
The garden incorporates the city’s war memorials in one downtown location. This would include the The Great War Memorial which stood in front of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and the Second World War and Korean War memorial at Princess Avenue. Continue reading

OK, so you tear it down . . . then what?


city_scope_logo-cmykWith demolition of the Sutherland Press building slated to begin Oct. 30, according to city manager Wendell Graves, what happens once the structure is down and the site cleared?
The Sutherland Saga may yet have life to it.
Before looking at the possibilities, Graves ran through what is going on behind the scenes prior to levelling the four-storey building.
“They may start moving things in next week,” he explained. “Chris Peck, our chief building official is working with the contractor (Schouten Excavating of Watford).
“One of the things they are finalizing is the demolition contractor’s engineer is working with the chief building official just to finalize the methodology as to how it comes down.” Continue reading

After ten years, the hostages are to be set free


27jt01sutherlandjpgAfter a ten-year legal battle and two previous failed attempts, the city of St. Thomas today (Oct. 19) was given the green light to demolish a derelict downtown building.

SUTHERLAND BLDG full

Sutherland Press building in 2008, prior to partial demolition of front face

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the city, denying owner David McGee’s most recent attempt at intervention to halt demolition of the four-storey Talbot Street edifice dating back to 1913.

“The courts found in favour of the city including the awarding of costs,” advised city manager Wendell Graves in an email.

Last week, the Court of Appeal allowed McGee to represent the parent company, Sutherland Lofts Inc. Previously McGee had relied on legal counsel Valerie M’Garry.

In 2008, Justice David Little commented ““The city has acted properly throughout. That cannot be said for the owner. The city is effectively being held hostage, as are its citizens, by an apparent shell corporation that has proven itself unreliable.”

Justice Peter Hockin, in June of this year, ruled  two work orders issued by the city in 2015 and 2016 are valid. Thereby confirming the structure was, indeed, unsafe.

Graves advised the city will be in discussion with the demolition contractor – Schouten  Excavating of Watford – to begin tearing down the crumbling building as soon as they can mobilize their equipment. Demolition is expected to take about 30 days.

Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope

Visit us on Facebook

 

city_scope_logo-cmyk

City of St. Thomas to unveil a-track-tive new corporate brand


city_scope_logo-cmykSubject to council approval Monday, the city will no longer be officially known as the Corporation of the City of St. Thomas, but instead St. Thomas – The Railway City.

And with it, new branding courtesy of adHome – an advertising and digital agency based in London – and a city administrative team composed of various department staff.

The new identity for the city is designed to “reflect a strong, close-knit community that’s continually looking to move forward,” according to city manager Wendell Graves.

In addition, it is designed to “reflect a vibrant culture and progressive business ideals looking to the future with a nod to the past,” continues Graves in his report to council.

Continue reading

You’d expect a healthy workplace environment at the Canadian Mental Health Association, wouldn’t you?


city_scope_logo-cmykThey deal with some of the most vulnerable members of the community, but staff at the Elgin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association say they are struggling with their own unbearable stress.
And now, members of OPSEU Local 133 are breaking the silence.
Bolstered by CMHA members from Oxford, about two dozen staff took a stand outside the Centre Street office where they claim to be working in an environment of fear, intimidation and anxiety.
According to Carol Warner, OPSEU staff representative, St. Thomas employees are consistently targeted and penalized by upper management for speaking up about health, safety and other workplace concerns.
“It’s hideous, it’s a long-standing issue,” notes Warner. “I would say it’s a systemic issue. We have grievances in the docket that are, at a minimum, four or five years old. And the grievance program has flaws as well.
“If one decides to, they can influence how quickly or how slowly the grievance process unfolds.” Continue reading