When the going gets tough, head out on a road trip

Last week in this very space we outlined a sweetheart lease deal offered to Elgin St. Thomas Public Health by their landlord at 99 Edward St.

That would be the County of Elgin, which is willing to cut the lease rate in half.

So how did CEO Cynthia St. John respond to this generous incentive?

On Tuesday, 11 managers trundled on up to Owen Sound to check out the spanking new building that houses Grey-Bruce Health Unit. The building has been described as, “extravagant” and OPSEU notes, “At least $20 million has been budgeted for this building, dubbed the ‘copper elephant’ by local media.”

As we understand it, that organization took on the financing of the building and we can only speculate St. John relishes the opportunity to pursue a similar financial route.

As an aside, The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) in February, 2008, requested that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care conduct a review of the Grey Bruce Health Unit under section 82 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The Heath Unit, which services residents in Owen Sound and surrounding communities, has cut registered nursing positions and programs following its move to a new multi-million-dollar waterfront building.

ONA was concerned management decisions about service delivery and the cutting of public health nursing positions will result in the degradation of its ability to deliver mandated services.

Sound familiar? Is this the role model St. John strives to emulate?

Copious amounts of overtime for managers, Blackberrys for the team, a spiffy new HQ to hang your shingle on … Elgin St. Thomas Public Health displays all the symptoms of a top-heavy organization in dire need of an accountability audit.

We can only imagine how demoralizing all of this is for front-line staff who surely must have enough pressing issues to deal with that would better occupy the time and resources of the CEO and her management team.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall at the next staff meeting to hear the explanation for all these comings and going?


City aldermanic candidate Bill Sandison passes along a reminder St. Thomas council announced a short time ago that Canada’s national and Olympic curling coach, Jim Waite, would be recognized for his many achievements.

Those include four trips to the Olympics, which yielded two gold medals and two silver medals.

To formally pay tribute to him, council proclaimed the parkette at the east end of Lake Margaret would be named in his honour.

We’ll defer to Sandison for a description of what is now Jim Waite Park.

“I live in Lake Margaret and was taken aback slightly as I was not aware that there was a parkette in the area, nor were many of my neighbours. Much to my surprise, a sign was recently placed on an unkempt strip of dandelion-infested land, at the intersection of Axford Parkway and Lake Margaret Trail. “The almost unnoticeable sign is strategically placed on a nondescript post below a Scoop the Poop sign and above a By-Law 41-80 sign and a Cure for Litter sign.

“The only thing that outnumbers the dandelions on this strip of land is the amount of goose droppings that are strewn throughout. In a word, it is an insult and is certainly no way to recognize anyone, let alone someone of Jim’s stature.”

Not exactly recognition of Olympic proportions.


In Wednesday’s T-J, Nancy Mayberry characterized City Scope and city council as naysayers, standing in the way of restoration efforts at the Canada Southern Railway station.

She further chastised the city for providing moral support only in lieu of financial assistance.

May we remind the letter writer that less than two years ago, city council authorized a financial commitment of $50,000 for the development of a heritage plan.

And further, when the North America Railway Hall of Fame was awarded upper-tier funding last fall, the obligation to match federal and provincial dollars was clearly defined as the responsibility of the railway organization.

This burden was not placed upon the shoulders of already beleaguered St. Thomas ratepayers.


“If you’re unemployed, what you need is a job.”

Who says Ontario Revenue Minister John Wilkinson doesn’t have a firm grasp on the wheel? Kind of like saying the key to winning a race is finishing first.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

2 thoughts on “When the going gets tough, head out on a road trip

  1. You really should come up here and have a look at the Health Unit’s castle in Owen Sound. Sadly, there were not enough people aware of the cost of the thing to put the brakes on and we’re stuck with it. Are there less nurses? You bet.
    Hope your editorials open the eyes of St. Thomas citizens before it’s too late.


  2. At a reported $20 million to construct the “copper elephant,” it should be a tourist attraction! Will take you up on your offer to see for myself. Those in charge have completely lost sight of priorities. – Ian


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