STMHA says policy not self righteous, it’s about playing hockey


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Last week’s letter from Jennifer Swales read here charging rule changes adopted by St. Thomas Minor Hockey Association smack of discrimination prompted a flurry of emotional letters to the editor, phone calls and emails.

In summary, under the new rules, if a child has received a subsidy for house league hockey, they cannot try out or play on a travel team.

“Individuals who made this rule based on ‘financial concerns’ for the parents smack of righteousness and assumptions and we all know what that does,” Swales charged.

In response to her email of Aug. 16, STMHA president Chris Smith offered the following rebuttal.

“Our Board of Directors are not ignorant to the economic landscape of our city, nor are we trying to ostracize any families, however you must understand our economic pressures,” stressed Smith.

“Our mandate is to provide subsidy to those in need,” he continued. “We subsidize any portion of a general registration that cannot be afforded by a particular family based on the recommendation of Jump Start (a program dedicated to removing barriers so children can participate in organized sport and recreation).

“Currently the recommended amounts are $150 supported by Jump Start, $150 paid by the family and $150 paid by STMHA (each case is evaluated individually and adjustments are made if required). It is worthwhile to note that STMHA is one of the few associations that contributes any dollar amount to the subsidization of players.

Smith continued, “Assuming we have 40 players who require subsidy at an average of $150, STMHA is financially responsible for $6,000 in lost registration. Due to this economic pressure we have looked at capping the number of players we can subsidize.

He concluded, “Our board is of the opinion if a player’s family can afford all of the extra costs associated with travel (in the neighborhood of $1,000 on average over the course of a season) then this same family can afford to pay a general registration and allow the association to provide funding to a player who truly cannot afford to play hockey without our assistance.”

“We have run this policy by staff at Jump Start locally and we believe that the policy is in keeping with the mandate of the OMHA.

“Unfortunately hockey is an expensive game. We try our best to insure that every player that wants to play has the opportunity to play. Our policy is not self righteous nor does it have anything to do with the perceived difference between travel hockey and house league hockey.

” The policy is simply there to provide an opportunity to play hockey to the broadest number of players.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING

A week ago we wondered whether Thursday’s announcement at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital was truly about healthcare improvements or securing the riding.

Well, the appearance of health minister Deb Matthews (filling in for the scheduled starter, Premier Dalton McGuinty) and several of the provincial candidates (including blue-shirted Jeff Yurek supporters) left no doubt opportunism was the order of the day.

While all of the October hopefuls took great pains to throw their support behind the hospital improvements/expansion, their post-announcement comments filled the air with political footballs.

Liberal candidate Lori Baldwin-Sands kicked off the politicking with an emailed release that advised, “Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to sustainable, healthy communities. Only a Liberal government with a positive track record on funding hospital redevelopments will ensure this project moves forward.”

So we ask again, why couldn’t this have been announced last year or was the commitment to St. Thomas not a priority at that time?

PC candidate Jeff Yurek decried the timing of the announcement and the politicizing of the announcement.

“They’ve had to wait and wait and finally get the announcement and they (the Liberals) waited for an election to do it,” he added.

“I don’t agree it should be political . . . just what Deb Matthews had to say in her speech, she made it very political at the time. So she announced about the courthouse — the money they had given for that — and the psychiatric hospital.”

In an email to City Scope, Freedom Party of Ontario leader and Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate Paul McKeever opined:

“Let me predict how the Liberal campaign has plotted this particular announcement, in terms of its political effects. Our suitably reviled Liberal premier will make the promise that isn’t a promise — to build that which will be built on condition that the disemployed people of the riding pay more municipal tax so as to contribute to a “matching funds” arrangement for the hospital expansion.”

Oh my, let the games begin.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We have an artificial, government-manufactured doctor shortage and, until we have more doctors, more buildings just means more unoccupied buildings with no doctors to service them.”

Freedom Party of Ontario leader and Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate Paul McKeever speaking to the Times-Journal following Thursday’s announcement of a major expansion slated for St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.

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

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