Only with full disclosure can council best serve


At the Feb. 14 meeting, St. Thomas council put the boot to adopting a ward system for municipal elections.

In a 5-3 vote, only Ald. Jeff Kohler, Ald. Sam Yusuf and Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands supported a motion to proceed with establishing such a system in time for the 2014 municipal vote.

Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman explained the majority of council is in opposition to a ward system for St. Thomas because only two similar-sized municipalities in Ontario have such a structure.
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Senior population growing, but “boomerangst” over healthcare sustainability may be overblown

OTTAWA, February 22, 2011–A perception exists that healthcare expenditures will rise to unsustainable levels as the proportion of seniors in our population continues to grow, creating concerns about service cuts and/or tax increases. But costs do not increase uncontrollably just because there are more seniors. Research shows that the main drivers of healthcare costs in the years to come will be inflation and technological innovation, not demographics. The myth that
aging is an important cost driver is tackled in the latest issue of the Mythbusters series, published today by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF), entitled “Myth: The aging population is to blame for uncontrollable healthcare costs.”

It’s true that seniors cost the system more per capita than younger people. They are more likely to have multiple chronic conditions, leading to more doctor visits and longer hospital stays, and greater “need” for pharmaceuticals. However, all people with multiple chronic conditions experience this level of need, and all people—old and young alike—in their final years of life tend to cost the system more.
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Never look a gift factory in the mouth


Well, Bob Hammersley pretty much nailed it last week in this corner when he advised the news emanating out of Thursday’s media scrum would be very big.

Come to St. Thomas and you could win free digs for a year in an existing factory is the essence of the challenge announced at the CASO station.

Talk about thinking outside the box.

It’s the brainchild of STIR — St. Thomas Industrial Revolution — a consortium of local business leaders intent on cutting through the clutter in a bid to attract the biggest and brightest to the city.

With the Industrial Revolution Challenge, one lucky winner will receive up to 10,000 square feet of industrial space, rent-free for a year, donated by the Ryckman Group of St. Thomas.
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Walk The Talk on Mental Health

opseudiablogue | February 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

LONDON – Words are not enough. OPSEU members in London and St. Thomas are calling upon the community to help “walk the talk on mental health” in front of Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) offices on Wednesday, March 9 beginning at 1 pm.

The demonstration follows more cuts this winter at Regional Mental Health – London and St. Thomas (RMHC) as well as in other communities across Ontario.

“For the past two and a half years the government has been working on a 10-year strategy for mental health,” says Kim McDowell, President of OPSEU Local 152 (RMHC). “While they have been talking about improving the system, the reality on the ground has been one of program closures and layoffs.”

The union is concerned that residents needing mental health care will have no place to go after the regional center divests beds to other communities and downsizes in 2014.

Protesters are asked to gather in front of the Local Health Integration Network offices at 201 Queens Ave in London. After a brief rally there, the protest will march to Health Minister Deb Matthews’ constituency office at 242 Picadilly St.

Want to help? Contact Kim McDowell at 519-765-8660.

Formal Talks on Cleveland-to-Canada Ferry Service Could Soon Begin

February 16, 2011 – Local officials in Central Elgin have agreed to begin formal discussions with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority regarding the launch of a ferry service between Port Stanley and Cleveland.

On Monday Central Elgin municipal council passed a resolution that supports further discussions with Cleveland port officials.

Talks between the city and Port Authority are now expected to accelerate.

“Central Elgin council is enthusiastic about looking at the potential benefits that a Lake Erie ferry may create,” said Central Elgin Mayor Bill Walters. “We don’t know yet if this new ferry concept is
the right fit for our area, but we owe it to our residents and businesses to fully investigate this concept. We will be seeking public input before making any decisions.”

Port Authority CEO Will Friedman reopened discussions with Canadian officials about the ferry service last fall. The service had been contemplated for years, but did not materialize, in part because the Canadian government had not completed a long-awaited transfer of the waterfront property to local control.

With that issue resolved, and after preliminary discussions with Cleveland port representatives in recent months, Mayor Walters recommended this week to municipal council to have more serious
discussions about establishing a pilot program of cross-lake ferry service.

“We are delighted the Central Elgin officials want to discuss this potentially exciting opportunity,” Friedman said. “We believe there is interest on both sides of the lake for this service now, and we
see that interest only growing in the next several years with construction of several major developments in Cleveland, including a casino.”

Recent discussions have lead to a shift in thinking about the ferry service and the type of vessel that would be used. While the service was initially conceived of as a freighter/truck-driven service,
a pilot program would likely focus on tourism and recreation, with truck traffic a smaller part of the mix. In addition a smaller vessel capable of traveling at faster speeds would likely be used.

Friedman said HMS Global Maritime of New Albany, Ind. has expressed interest in exploring the possibility of operating the higher-speed ferry service. Mayor Walters said he looks forward to learning more about the potential service.

Former mayor seeks to light fire of desire in city hearts

After two failed attempts to return to municipal council in St. Thomas (in 2006 and this past October), Peter Ostojic now wants to skate in the provincial arena.

Mid-week, Ostojic announced he would love to represent the city at Queen’s Park and has entered the fray to become the Progressive Conservative candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in this fall’s provincial vote.

 It’s a crowded field — when announcing his intention, there were six other hopefuls. That’s down to five now that Bill Fehr left in a huff, mortified that former MPP Peter North has the temerity to ask for the confidence of riding constituents in a bid to resurrect his political career.

Not one to pass on the opportunity to gain political traction, Ostojic dropped City Scope a line to pick up on where Bob McCaig left off last week in his call to action for the community to financially support St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital. Read here

To recap, civic booster McCaig checked in to advise, “I am far more concerned about the long-term damage being done to our hospital by city council’s failure to make any contribution to the hospital’s capital fund, as was promised under the mayoralty of Peter Ostojic.”
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Together Strong – Making a Difference, a conference on suicide prevention and child/youth mental illness

Together Strong – Making a Difference is a joint conference presented by The Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention and Parents for Children’s Mental Health.

The conference will be held in London, Ontario on April 15th and 16th at the University of Western Ontario, Engineering Department and The Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre. The conference will feature guest presentations including Eric Windeler whose lost his son to suicide and has started the The Jack Project as a result of his son’s loss. Personal stories of loss and triumph will be featured as well as workshops/presentations by leading experts in the field of Suicide and Child and Youth Mental Illness including Dr. Ian Manion, Dr. Simon Davidson, Dr. Jennifer Brasch, and many more. A feature panel will discuss the role of media in reporting suicide and dealing with the stigma of mental illness and will feature CTV Reporter Natalie Pierosara.

The conference will also feature a Gala Event with guest and keynote speaker – “Canada’s Sweetheart” Elizabeth Manley.

Anyone with an interest in child and youth mental health and suicide prevention is encouraged to attend this conference with a strong line-up of presenters and networking opportunities to increase our capacity to strengthen and build resilience in all those who suffer from mental illness.

For conference posterclick here

St. Thomas consolidated courthouse project moves ahead

For Immediate Release February 8, 2011

Preserving the past; building for the future

ST. THOMAS – Steps to preserve the unique heritage aspects of the historic Elgin County Courthouse on Wellington Street are underway, as the process to build the new St. Thomas Consolidated Courthouse continues.

Salvage operations will begin this week on some of the buildings on the courthouse property including the former Governor’s Residence.
Workers on the site will begin salvaging the bricks and slate roof from the former Governor’s Residence. Most of the salvaged materials will be presented to the City of St. Thomas for use in the restoration and repair of municipal buildings. The remainder of the materials will be available for sale to the community, the proceeds of which will go to the St. Thomas Municipal Heritage Committee for preservation work in the area.
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To lose hospital is to truly become a have-not community


Over the last couple of weeks we’ve documented the back room wheeling and dealing last summer that led to the done-in-a-flash retirement/rehiring of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital CEO Paul Collins.

The manner in which this was handled, and the lack of overwhelming consensus amongst the board of directors generated considerable response, including concern from readers on the impact of the pension shuffle on fundraising efforts in the community and at municipal council tables in St. Thomas and Elgin.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Bob McCaig checked in with City Scope to help stir the pot with the following observations.
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