The governing bodies of the health units in St. Thomas/Elgin and Oxford county on Jan. 10 approved proceeding to the next level in merging the two bodies.
Locally, the health unit is the governing body and so municipal councils in St. Thomas and Elgin were not involved in any vote to move forward with the merger, whereas in Oxford the county serves as the governing body and municipal council had to approve a motion to proceed.
To be known as Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit, the new entity would serve approximately 204,000 residents.
A new, autonomous board would be composed of four representatives from Oxford and two each from St. Thomas and Elgin county. Continue reading
Friday’s announcement of the proposed merger of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health – which aligns with the province’s call for fewer health units with autonomous boards – is, no doubt, intended to create efficiencies.
Such is the desired effect of any merger, no matter the business sector.
To quote the media release, the two health units “began exploring a potential merger as a way of working towards a strong, unified rural voice for public health in Ontario.”
To further quote from the release, “The intent to merge was formalized through a letter of intent signed by Oxford County Warden David Mayberry on November 8 and Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Chair Bernie Wiehle on November 9. The letter of intent commits both organizations to a review of each other’s finances, operations and assets; to equally sharing any costs associated with the merger; and to pursuing the necessary statutory and regulatory change at the provincial level before the merger becomes official.” Continue reading
We opened up City Scope seven days ago by suggesting the ball was in the court of London developer Shmuel Farhi.
The comment was in reference to the decision by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to seek new digs, not located on property owned by Farhi in the city’s west end.
Well, Farhi has rifled the ball back into this corner in convincing fashion.
He is most upset at a comment we made as to where the allegiance of members of council lie.
Specifically, my observation “any dissenting voice on city council (on a minor zoning variation needed by Family and Children’s of St. Thomas and Elgin to move into the 99 Edward St. location that is the current home of the health unit) would certainly be based on allegiance to Farhi . . . rather than to city ratepayers.
That prompted a terse email from Farhi, who asserts he had a deal in place with the health unit for his Talbot Street property.
London developer Shmuel Farhi’s accounts of the events leading up to a tentative deal with Farhi for property at the west end of Talbot Street to be the new home of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health as taken from an April 19, 2012 email to Ald. David Warden and Mayor Heather Jackson, with copies to Ald. Gord Campbell and Ald. Tom Johnston. This follows April 28,2012 discussion in City Scope which you can read here. The email is entitled Without Prejudice . . .
I am very pleased we finally had the opportunity to talk at length yesterday about the history of the Health Unit’s search for a new building.
As I told you, I met with Paul Smith, Cynthia St. John, Amy Dale and others in my office in the early fall of 2009 and we received “verbal agreement” on a design/build/lease package.
On November 5, 2009, Cynthia sent an email that included the following: “I am pleased to report that Amy will be in touch with you and Colleen to finalize the offer to lease. The board did have some specific questions about materials used in the design and such but nothing that will hold us up. Once Amy, Colleen and I have finalized the offer to lease, I have direction from my board to sign it so we are moving ahead which is great news. Thank you for your patience and availability over the last while to finalize this deal.” (Emphasis mine.)
On November 5, 2009, Kim Eitel of the Health Unit emailed the following to me: “Amy Dale will be in touch with your office Friday or Monday to finalize the “offer to lease”.” (Emphasis mine.)
Well, that didn’t take long. We hinted in this corner last week debate on a new home for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health was likely to heat up in the near future, however we didn’t expect matters to flare up in such threatening fashion over the course of seven days.
To recap, the health unit board of directors has indicated a move is in store from their current home at 99 Edward St., to a yet-to-be-determined two-acre site.
That new home will not be located on property owned by London developer Shmuel Farhi at the west end of St. Thomas on Talbot Street.
Farhi thought he had a deal with the board of directors and health unit CEO Cynthia St. John in 2009 for a 30,000 sq. ft., purpose-built structure on a long-term lease.
Members of city council will don their referee shirts Monday as the Downtown Development Board and North America Railway Hall of Fame escalate their funding feud.
The jousting dates back to last summer when the DDB, under chairman Mark Cosens, “loaned” NARHF the sum of $10,000.
Now, the DDB wants the sum repaid, however it is being stymied at every turn by NARHF.
Dan Muscat, current DDB chairman, is attempting to obtain records from NARHF to determine the status of the loan.
“This situation is a city council issue as it is the past DDB board (under the leadership of Cosens) that sanctioned the loan,” asserts Muscat, in a letter to council.
The Sutherland Press building casts more than a shadow across Talbot Street . . . the moribund edifice projected a pall over last October’s mayoral race and ultimately proved a game-breaker in the final days of Cliff Barwick’s campaign.
Days before the trek to the polls, building owner David McGee dropped a bombshell — he was suing the City of St. Thomas, Barwick, St. Thomas police and other defendants for $3 million for punitive damages and aggravated damages as well as “mental distress, economic interference and, specifically, loss of income” for what the claim states was “unnecessary demolition” in July, 2008.
You had to know this would be coming. One week ago, City Scope documented a totally unsubstantiated claim by Ontario health minister Deb Matthews, tossed out at last Saturday’s liberal nomination meeting where Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands was acclaimed, that PC leader Tim Hudak is running pharmacists as candidates across the province.
An obvious jab at St. Thomas pharmacist Jeff Yurek, sporting the Tory banner in Elgin-Middlesex-London for the fall provincial vote. And a claim Matthews is unlikely to repeat beyond a room full of her supporters.
In a letter to the T-J, (read full letter here ) Yurek writes, “While I am flattered Ms. Matthews would think that I was hand selected by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Tim Hudak, her statement is false.
“Through a democratic process, I was elected from a field of five candidates by members of the Elgin-Middlesex-London riding association.
Not a good week for the guiding light over at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health. But then again, CEO Cynthia St. John hasn’t enjoyed many shining moments over the past year or so.
Following last Saturday’s revelation St. John has called in city police to investigate the actions of a dismissed inspector, we learn she was summoned to appear before Elgin county council Tuesday to shed light on the health unit’s 2011 budget.
Council has expressed concerns about a number of increases in this year’s budget versus the 2010 edition.
Specifically, a whopping increase in the service/repairs line item from $30,000 last year to $208,460 this time around.