We 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.
Things had deteriorated so badly, the health unit shut down the kitchen for three days.
However, it is not the staff to blame. It is the home’s operator, Niagara Supportive Living of Welland.
As was noted in her email sent to us earlier this month, “people that are living there are still dealing with substandard food and food shortages almost daily.”
We talked Friday with Cathie Walker, director of health protection at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health about the concerns raised over nutrition value and quantity of food at the facility.
She is aware of the concerns raised by our Lambton Shores reader.
“We are in the process of working to determine what the appropriate avenue is for following up those concerns,” advised Walker.
However, she reminded “The health unit itself is involved in aspects more related to food safety and not the quality of food. We have no ability to do anything about enforcement.”
Walker advised the facility – like others in the city – is generally inspected three times per year. The last inspection was Dec. 7.
“We are engaged in a regular program of inspection there . . . the inspectors are in at least three times a year. Most recently, she (the inspector) did not express any concerns about the safety of the food per se. It was more the quality.”
The home did pass inspection, however there were several compliance issues dealing with storage of food; washing of dishes and utensils; how equipment, non-food contact surfaces, and linen are maintained, designed, constructed and installed and ease of access for cleaning; and the proper use and storage of clean utensils.
The latter was corrected during the inspection.
“We didn’t close the kitchen,” noted Walker, “so it doesn’t appear what they saw caused significant concerns in terms of the imminent safety of the residents.”
So, it’s not so much a safety matter as it is quality of life for those residents who call Walnut Manor their home.
Walker pointed out, “But the intent would be that anyone who is operating a private facility who is being paid to provide care for people who can’t care properly for themselves would be expected to do what is necessary to provide the appropriate care.”
It returns to the repugnant practice of warehousing our most vulnerable.
“I think it helps to keep the lens on places,” stressed Walker. “These are people who can’t necessarily effectively advocate on their own behalf, so they do rely on their relatives and other concerned members of the community to take up the banner for them. I believe we owe that to them.”
More to follow early in the new year.
PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON CITY COUNCIL
No formal council meeting this coming week, however there will be a reference committee meeting, 4:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
One of the items on the agenda is a report from the Select Committee for the Evaluation of City Council Stipend.
It would be a gutsy call for members to approve an increase in remuneration for council in this, an election year.
We know from the past, Mayor Heather Jackson considers the mayor’s post a full-time position and should be compensated as such.
Would have to think mayoral candidate Coun. Steve Wookey would love to maintain his teaching position at Central Elgin Collegiate Institute and, therefore, likely considers the mayor’s office a part-time position.
Plenty of potential for a dandy mayoral race come election day, Oct. 22.
Just a reminder, nomination period begins May 1 with the last day to file nominations for council and school board being July 27.
NO TICKET TO RIDE
St. Thomas Transit will be running free conventional transit service from 8:15 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 3:15 a.m. New Year’s Day.
City Scope debuted in the St. Thomas Times-Journal on January 15, 2005 and expanded to an online version in the fall of 2018.
An annual highlight of the latter has been a review of the past year in quotes.
We’ll stick with tradition, but expand upon that to include some of the most memorable quotes over the past ten years. They not only highlight the wit and wisdom of our elected officals and those in public office, but chronicle newsworthy events that have impacted St. Thomas and Elgin county in that period of time.
To set the scene, let’s turn to the master of the put-down, Will Rogers, who noted many years ago, “Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”
And for those in the spotlight who bristle at the thought of their words perhaps coming back to haunt them one more time, we can only offer up this observation from George Orwell — born Eric Arthur Blair — English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
So, let’s go back to the beginning in 2008 to illustrate Donald Trump hasn’t cornered the market on claims of fake news.
In refusing to accept a $5,000 donation from the East Elgin Sportsmen
Association, the London-centred school board stretched
political correctness to the max. In the process, Elgin school
trustee Frank Exley got a little hot under the collar when he targeted this corner by charging, “You keep digging and digging and I hate the media, because until they get their point they’re not happy.”
When you choose public office Frank, you are fair game for the media.
City council is still grappling with community grants and earlier this month ganged up on the mayor to impose a $60,000 cap on each request.
No one pointed to the loosey-goosey nature of the process than former alderman Gord Campbell, one of the best in dishing out quotes at city hall, who had the wonderful ability to summarize the absurd in a few short words.
Such was the case during budget deliberations years ago, following several instances in which community organizations received far more funding than requested.
“We’re giving out money to people who haven’t even asked for it.”
In another life, Campbell would have made a dandy stand-up comedian.
An appearance on Dan Reith’s Politically Speaking program in April, 2010, yielded probably the strangest exchange of that year as Mark Cosens attempted to explain the whereabouts of a $40,000 community improvement grant from the city.
Something Cosens pawned off as a bit of a kerfuffle.
“To clear the air for those who may be wondering, has that money been repaid or will it be?” queried Reith.
“No, it’s got nothing to do with me at this point in time,” Cosens reiterated. “The city made the decision that caused that to happen and it’s got nothing to do with me at this time. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
The $40,000 just vanished into thin air.
In September of that year, Ald. Terry Shackelton died after a lengthy illness and then Mayor Cliff Barwick said it best, “He was honest, that’s the greatest epitaph a politician can have: he was an honest guy.”
In 2011, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands made several appearances in the quote countdown. The first, in February, when she announced she was seeking the provincial Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London, or maybe she meant the Libs are dead in the water, we’re not sure what she was implying. “It’s something I’ve been mulling over and giving it a considerable amount of thought, but let’s just drive the nail in that coffin.”
She did just that when her campaign crashed and burned in October.
In the reach-for-the-sky category, Ald. Baldwin-Sands stretches the bounds of imagination.
“Saturday will show the Liberals are committed to strong leadership. I believe I can take that torch from him (MPP Steve Peters) and hold that torch high.”
The comment was made prior to her April acclamation as Liberal candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Less than two weeks into 2012, and Campbell set the tone with this blistering synopsis of what lay ahead at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital and their expansion program.
“There are two issues. There is the greedy double-dipping by the hospital board and then, the need for the hospital foundation to raise the money the hospital will need.”
There was no competition in the 2012 flip-flop of the year award, bestowed upon Ald. Cosens who left no doubt about his feelings on the need for a new police headquarters.
“But regardless of what this (an environmental assessment of the existing site) comes up with, unless there’s volcanoes going up in the middle of the ground, it wouldn’t alter my decision on what we’re doing here.”
A complete about-face from this quote taken from Cosens’ 2010 campaign video.
“No question they are starved for space, cramped quarters and dealing with an outdated building. The building is of such construction, to try to renovate the current building would be nearly impossible without tearing the whole thing down and starting from scratch.”
With a new address on CASO Crossing this year, decades of dithering over a new home for the police service became a thing of the past.
The Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre is making headlines again this week, but in 2012, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, was not about to be out-done.
“Old Daddy Dalton, he ought to come look at stuff. He should grow a spine and come down here and meet the people his policies are affecting the most. They have a multitude of issues in all the jails but this one here has reached the boiling point. I marvel at how a politician can just ignore such obvious problems.”
Smokey was smoking with that assessment.
January of 2013 had barely inched on to the scene when we learned of the death — at age 77 — of former Elgin MP John Wise, prompting this tribute from Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek.
“He was a man who considered public service a duty and took his role as the people’s representative very seriously.”
High praise seldom assigned to today’s breed of politicians.
In September of that year, Ald. David Warden served up this observation on the hiring of an $80,000-a-year special-projects engineer to help clear off a backlog of previously approved capital projects in the environmental services department.
“We’re hiring a consultant to hire consultants.”
For MPP Yurek, 2014 proved satisfying for his private member’s bill designed to protect asthmatic students at school.
“This bill represents some common sense that most parents would think occurs already in our schools.”
His comment on Ryan’s Law, that would let asthmatic children carry inhalers at school with a doctor’s approval.
In July of 2015, the plug was pulled on the Holiday Fantasy of Lights, the annual tradition that graced Pinafore Park over Christmas and New Year’s Day. Prompting this rebuttal from former committee chairman Russ Whalls.
“It is hard to believe that since our mandate has always been to put money back into the park, that the city would want so much money from our group. In the past we were not charged for rental of the pavilions and we do not bring in enough money from donations to facilitate such a large fee.”
According to the Fantasy of Lights committee, the final straw was the $14,000 tab demanded by the city for rental of the Pinafore Park pavilions for this past year’s event and confusion over insurance coverage.
City council’s indecision over whether to fund St. Thomas Cemetery Company to the tune of $59,000 dragged on into September of 2015.
“This is as cost effective as you are going to get. Trust me, you do not want to run that cemetery.”
Gail Ballard, a member of the Old St. Thomas Church Restoration Trust, in a warning to city council about getting into the cemetery business.
A month later, Stephen Harper was shown the door, but the Conservatives remain firmly entrenched in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“I look at the job Jeff Yurek has done as an Opposition MPP. Just because you’re not in government doesn’t mean you can’t do good things for the community.”
Then MP-elect Karen Vecchio in a post-election interview.
And with approval likely early in January of the new year for merger of St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus, based in Chatham-Kent, Entegrus president and CEO Jim Hogan stressed the utility marriage is all about customer service.
“The City of St. Thomas and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent would not accept any merger or partnership without insuring the customer service will be as good, if not better, as we move forward.”
In closing out the old year, we leave you with these words of wisdom from English poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce.
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Our wish for our faithful readers is 2018 brings you health and an abundance of happiness.
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope
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