Questions need to be asked about hospital’s $13 million ask


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The redevelopment undertaking at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital was re-scoped earlier this year by the Dalton McGuinty government. However the hospital doesn’t appear to have re-scoped its financial expectations from the city/county/ratepayers.
The original capital redevelopment project came with a price tag estimated at $106 million, with a local commitment of 10% or roughly $11 million (although the hospital was seeking $13 million from the city/county/community).
The hospital board of governors has acknowledged – via a letter dated April 4, 2012 from board chairman Bruce Babcock to health minister Deb Matthews – the project cost has been reduced to $45 million.

That new total is the “bricks and mortar” cost of construction. The province will not pay for equipment and furnishings.
So why is the hospital still seeking $4.5 million each from the city and county (over a five-year period) and $4 million from the community at large for a total of $13 million?
Unless it is to establish a slush fund for other expenses, which was alluded to back in March of this year when Allan Weatherall, then executive-director of the hospital foundation, wrote to Ald. Sam Yusuf encouraging him to push council to put aside hospital funding in the 2012 city budget.
An embarrassing memo, which no doubt played a role in Weatherall’s departure.
Questions need to be asked.
What happened to the city/council committee struck earlier this year to deal with formulating a game plan to deal with the hospital redevelopment?
Where is this $1 million a year in funding to come from – a whopping tax increase or dive into city reserves? Rob Peter to pay Paul?
Most important, where should city council’s loyalty lie: to the ratepayers of St. Thomas or the hospital?
And please, during the hospital foundation’s deputation Monday to city council, spare us any reference to losing our hospital.
This has never been about saving our hospital.

THE POWER OF TWEETS
Our account last week of Jason McComb’s attempt to drop off a flyer on the second floor at city hall prompted a testy exchange of Tweets between this corner and Mayor Heather Jackson.
Jason, you will recall, is homeless by choice in an effort to promote the plight of homeless individuals in St. Thomas and across the country via his website.
He was encouraged by four police officers to leave city hall before having the opportunity to speak with the mayor, even though she greeted him on his arrival.
Jason had even dressed up in his cleanest homeless clothes in the hopes of bending the mayor’s ear for the briefest moment, understanding her busy schedule.
After a further exchange of Tweets and a phone call, City Scope has brokered a meeting between Mayor Jackson and Jason on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
If nothing else, a moral victory for Jason and his cause.

THE PICTURE IS NOW IN FOCUS
A welcome insight this week on the city’s job situation from Sean Dyke, economic development office at St. Thomas Economic Development Corp.(and quite possibly the new CEO in 2013).
We are still puzzled as to why this info wasn’t packaged up in readily accessible fashion to pass along to readers.
It certainly wasn’t easily gleaned from the EDC website.

IS THIS THE ANSWER TO ANIMAL CONTROL?
World traveler Bob McCaig dropped us a line this week from Turkey where he wonders if there is an answer in that country for the stray animal problem in St. Thomas.
“As we wander about Istanbul, Turkey, one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the world, one cannot turn a corner without seeing lots of cats and several dogs within a few blocks,” writes McCaig.
He continues, “Since our guide is the most knowledgeable and one of the best in the city, having toured Barack Obama on his visit, we queried and he readily supplied the answer.
“There are no stray dogs or cats in Istanbul. They are the loving wards of a caring society. Each dog is neutered and ear tagged. The ear tag provides all information about the animal. The animals are fed and watered daily by the city, cared for when they get sick or injured, all at city expense and buried when they die. Their waste is kept cleaned up.
“Why? Animals have rights in Turkey, the same it seems as people who vote in a democracy having done so since about 1923 when the Ottoman Empire was defeated.
“The government, like the Sultans of old, believes that a population that is kept supplied with food and is treated justly will never take up arms against its leaders. They feed and treat their animals with care and respect. So much for the cats and dogs.”
A noble gesture but a tough sell in this culture. And, with increased demand on food banks here and across the country, should our priorities lie?
With three active animal rights groups in St. Thomas, we welcome your input.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I believe that this project will add a new dimension to the downtown and also increase traffic for businesses in the area. It will be nice to see the train come downtown again.”
Andrew Gunn, trustee of the Dorothy Palmer estate, who, on Friday, announced a donation of $575,000 toward revitalization of the London and Port Stanley Railway in the downtown core.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Comments and questions may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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2 thoughts on “Questions need to be asked about hospital’s $13 million ask

  1. Where does St. Thomas City counsel expect to get the lucky $13,000,000.00? How about back taxes from the Ford Plant?!

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