Joe Preston makes it three in St. Thomas mayoral race


Former Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston ended weeks of speculation this morning (July 10) by announcing on the steps of city hall he has entered the St. Thomas mayoral race.
The move was inspired by “hundreds of people”, according to Preston, encouraging him to declare his intention to become head of the corporation.
“It got hard to ignore it,” added Preston, “and I didn’t start out to do it, but I had enough people come to me and say, ‘You should.’ I looked at all the decisions and said yes, good plan, let’s do it.” Continue reading

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‘Something needs to change with regard to the healthcare system and how it is being managed’ – MPP Jeff Yurek


city_scope_logo-cmykResidents of St. Thomas and Elgin are being “shortchanged” on physiotherapy services, charges Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek.
He stood up in the Ontario Legislature this week to question the Kathleen Wynne government on the closing of MobilityFit Physiotherapy in St. Thomas, one of only two such services in the city funded through OHIP.
Yurek alleges both the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (SW LHIN) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have “refused to act on the impending loss of service.”
Yurek added, “When contacted for a status update, both the SW LHIN and ministry responded with the same talking points. Neither would state whether or not the clinic is closing.” Continue reading

For Steve Peters, his focus is on city hall (once again)


city_scope_logo-cmykStanding at the front of his house, he has a clear view of the city hall tower. And now, Steve Peters is seriously contemplating a return to the council chamber at that very same building where he first cut his teeth on municipal politics, 30 years ago this fall.
A former city alderman, mayor, Elgin-Middlesex-London Liberal MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, Peters has so far remained coy about his intentions once the nomination period opens May 1, other than to insist he is not interested in again donning the mayor’s chain of office.
An in-depth conversation this week, however, did shed considerable light on whether the political will to serve the populace still burns within Peters.
“Someone said you’re sitting on the fence. But I’ve been there and I’ve done that. And people say why are you going to go back?” Continue reading

There is a great disconnect on winter disconnects


city_scope_logo-cmykFaced with the inevitable, St. Thomas Energy this week voluntarily halted the practice of winter disconnects for unpaid bills. The decision was made a day before the province pulled the plug on such action.
“The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) has strict rules about disconnects and time periods and we have to offer pay arrangements and we’ve always followed the OEB guidelines on that,” advised Rob Kent, acting CEO at St. Thomas Energy.
“We are voluntarily agreeing to the moratorium on disconnects.”
The obvious question is what leverage does St. Thomas Energy now have collecting overdue bills during cold weather months?
“You do lose leverage during the winter months when you can’t disconnect, but what no one has really looked at is what happens when that period ends and the customer has a substantial bill? How do you help them make arrangements and get caught up without getting disconnected in the spring and summer months? That is something we’re going to have to address.”

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Ombudsman’s report shows LHIN uninterested in results of hospital’s public consultation


opseudiablogue | August 19, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Categories: Local Health Integration Networks | URL: http://wp.me/pLpCD-7w

One of the key issues raised in the Ombudsman’s recent report, “The LHIN Spin” is how public consultation is dealt with.

With voluntary integrations (for example a hospital initiated change to service), there is no requirement for the LHIN to consult the public if it agrees with the integration proposal. However, there is a requirement on the part of the health service provider to do so.

The Ombudsman reports that “while LHIN officials acknowledged that they do have a role in ensuring that a health service provider conducts stakeholder outreach, they stated that they relied on and trusted the information provided by Hamilton Health Sciences concerning its efforts to obtain public input.”

However, in the case of Hamilton Health Sciences, the LHIN did not even request any of the results of that consultation.

In theory, the community could be uniformly opposed to a decision, offer good alternate proposals, and none of this would ever inform the LHIN when they made their final decision. Such disregard for the content of these consultations suggest the LHIN was not interested in what the community had to say, only in the fact that it was consulted and legal obligations were met.

In the case of Hamilton Health Sciences, when the Hamilton Spectator contacted the hospital to ask about results from their consultation, HHS said the results were recorded in the form of “personal and mental notes” and been the subject of “debriefing conversations.” In other words, consultations were held, but nothing was really recorded for review by the LHIN or others.

Further, in the case of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN, the board was told not to attend health service provider consultations sessions to hear for themselves what the public had to say.

A hospital has every incentive to filter what they have heard in order to support the proposal they are bringing to the LHIN. If neither staff nor board from the LHIN is attending these sessions, and if no real documentation is made of concerns raised at these meetings, the LHIN will have no idea if the hospital’s representation of those comments was fair

In the case of Hamilton Health Sciences, it was clear they didn’t even care.

The Ombudsman makes a recommendation that “adequate records of community outreach should also be kept and made available to ensure that stakeholder views are accurately represented.”

LHINs do not permit deputations to its board meetings. Given the community cannot rely on the self-interest of health care providers to accurately reflect their view back to the LHIN, they should have the opportunity to do it themselves.

Freedom of Information, the LHINs and the Ministry of Health


OPSEU recently submitted a number of freedom of information (FOI) requests to the Ministry of Health, one of which is still making its way through the system.

The early responses we have would suggest that “officially” little information is finding its way from the Local Health Integration Networks to the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health’s access and privacy office has told us that the only way to gather this information is to apply separately to all 14 provincial LHINs. It would be up to us to collate this information to get a provincial snapshot of what’s going on.

One has to wonder how the Ministry is making policy decisions if it doesn’t really collect such information from the LHINs?


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Realigning Ontario’s Approach to Small and Rural Hospitals to Serve Public Values


A report released Monday by the Ontario Health Coalition appeals for equity and improved access to hospital services in rural Ontario.

The 92-page document is based on input received from more than 1,150 people who attended 12 hearings in regions across Ontario in March.

The report was written and submitted to the Ontario Health Coalition by a non-partisan panel including doctors, nurses, health professional, representatives of each region of Ontario, and representatives active in each political party.

Read the executive summary release17may2010.