Mergers are all about creating efficiencies, so who will be left at the alter in health unit marriage?


city_scope_logo-cmykFriday’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

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What was once forgotten, is now lost


city_scope_logo-cmykIn January of last year we first wrote about the forgotten Talbot Street apartments, clearly visible from the mayor’s office across the street at city hall.
Even more shocking than the decrepit state of these hovels was the fact owner Trad Antoine had been approved by St.Thomas-Elgin Ontario Works for funding to add 10 one-bedroom units next door at 560 Talbot St., above the former Capitol Theatre.
Two of the apartments were to be reserved for clients supported by the YWCA of St. Thomas-Elgin and the remainder for Canadian Mental Health Association clients.
He was in line to receive $731,925 of Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) funding.
Just before Christmas, 2016, we checked in with acting director of St. Thomas-Elgin Ontario Works Elizabeth Sebestyen on the status of those new units given the fact Trad had packed up shop at his furniture business housed in the old theatre. Continue reading

Lots of red ink, but rest assured nothing will be written off


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With municipal councils in St. Thomas and Chatham-Kent having approved the merger of St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus, all that is required is the go-ahead from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), likely to happen late this year with a target merger date of Jan. 1, 2018.
Oh, and there is that prickly matter of a not insignificant amount of long-term debt run up by Ascent Group, St. Thomas Energy’s parent – city treasurer David Aristone refers to it as bank debt – and in excess of $5 million owed the municipality for the collection of water bills dating back to at least 2014.
It’s not a subject open to much in the way of discussion by either Aristone or St. Thomas Energy acting CEO Rob Kent. 

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Former skate park pitched as site for proposed food garden


What once was the home of flips and verticals may soon play host to fruits and vegetables.
At its reference committee meeting Monday at city hall, members of council listened to a pitch promoting the Moore Food Garden, proposed for the site of the former skateboard park – at the east end of the Moore Street parking lot – condemned and demolished by city staff during March Break, 2012.

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Who suffers when you can’t get there from here?


city_scope_logo-cmykLow-income families, young people, seniors and those with disabilities are the most disadvantaged when a rural area does not have access to good public transportation.
That was the message Thursday (March 23) at a rural public workshop hosted by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and  attended by close to 30 participants.
The aim of the three-hour forum was to get the ball rolling on development of a community transportation system for St. Thomas and Elgin county.
Opening speaker Dr. Joyce Locke, the area’s medical officer of health, noted 35 per cent of Elgin’s population lives in rural areas, with personal vehicles being the most popular form of transportation.
In fact, advised Locke, 86 per cent of those living in St. Thomas/Elgin drive to work, with the average annual cost of operating a vehicle running in the neighbourhood of $7,300.

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Trouble remembering the name Ascent? Don’t worry.


city_scope_logo-cmyk Aldermanic also-ran Jacqueline DeLeebeeck feels revealing candidate expenses/contributions in the 2014 municipal vote is of little interest, as outlined in a note passed along this week.
Well Jacqueline it’s all about transparency and every ratepayer has the right to know who spent what, how much was contributed to a campaign and by who.
As we reported previously, she spent $2,800 on her bid, with a $200 contribution from Bob McCaig.
Rounding out the field, Ken Boe ran his campaign with just over $700 in expenses.
Gary Clarke spent $1,741 in his successful trip to city hall.
Rose Gibson, a campaign veteran, incurred $2,471 in expenses this time around.
According to Walter Green’s filing, he spent nary a penny on his bid. Continue reading

Why do we allow warehousing of the vulnerable?


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At first glance, the proposal seems entirely counter intuitive. Let an absentee owner off the hook and reach out to the community instead for their help and support.
But, that is exactly the tact lawyer Elena Dempsey is proposing to turn things around at Walnut Manor — an independent supportive living home operated by Niagara Supportive Living in Welland.
The Times-Journal has already run a couple of stories on the plight of 14 residents in the home who are served up meals described by Dempsey as appalling not appealing.
A situation that generated enough concern Elgin St. Thomas Public Health shut the kitchen down for three days earlier this month.
Dempsey is hoping local businesses and concerned citizens can assist with food donations in the short term in order to pressure the home owners into cleaning up their act.
Dempsey doesn’t mince her words.
“This owner has to get a mindset review,” she asserts. “He has to recognize when he comes into a community, you start to develop relationships with the community.
“If we could get local produce; if they start to donate stuff then maybe once we get this owner on track he could start setting up contracts with people.”
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