Sizzle and sparks at prospect of London-St. Thomas utility union


city_scope_logo-cmykThat buzzing and crackling sound audible earlier this week was the rumor mill churning full tilt at the prospect of London Hydro and St. Thomas Energy uniting in utility bliss.

Mum’s the word from the potential partners, however the picture may come into better focus following a special in-camera meeting Tuesday where St. Thomas council – sole shareholders of parent company Ascent Group – will be briefed on the findings of Grant Thornton, the financial consultants hired by the city to explore merger partners.

Their suitor search has been completed, advised Ascent Group board chairman John Laverty on Tuesday, and they “are in the middle of putting together a summary that is to be presented to the Ascent Group board and city council.” Continue reading

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Health care system is not broken, but there is waste – Paul Collins


city_scope_logo-cmykIn a lengthy interview on Paul Collins‘ penultimate day as president and CEO at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, he dwelt on the Great

Expansion, the facility’s designation as a regional stroke centre and a greater role for STEGH as a regional player.

We’ll pick up this week with the suggestion the health care model in this province is broken.

“I don’t think the system is broken,” asserted Collins. “But I think there are some elements of the system we need to be paying attention to. How does the aging population affect this hospital. We talk about alternate levels of care. These are folks who come to the hospital because they need care, but then when it’s time to be discharged, the question where is the safest place for them to be discharged to – long-term care, in their own home or a nursing home? Continue reading

Departing CEO leaves St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in good health


city_scope_logo-cmykOn his penultimate day as president and CEO of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Paul Collins reflected on a career that dates back to 1989, the last 15 years at the helm.

With construction crews clearly visible out the office window and Collins enjoying his final week bidding farewell to administration and staff, we asked him what was going through his mind as he drove in Thursday morning past the hustle and bustle of the Great Expansion.

Surely he must be swirling in a mix-master of emotions.

“Relief,” was the short, single-word answer.

Sensing my puzzlement he continued. Continue reading

Ascent 2015 financial statement will spark your interest


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s a much anticipated document and it can be found in the agenda for Monday night’s city council meeting.

We are referring to the city’s consolidated financial statements for 2015 which include details of its investment in Ascent Group Inc.

Not sure whether it is meant to offer reassurance to ratepayers, however that portion of the document opens with “The city owns 100% of Ascent Group Inc. which in turn owns 100% of St. Thomas Energy Inc., Ascent Energy Services Inc., Ascent Solutions Inc., Ascent Utility Services Inc., and Ascent Renewables.

Once you digest the Ascent Group financial statement we, as ratepayers, would be better off owning a fleet of wheezing Russian Ladas.

If you thought the 2014 Ascent picture was grim, hold on. Continue reading

Will tire-kickers appreciate the new, pared-back Ascent model?


city_scope_logo-cmykThere was more pruning over at Ascent/St. Thomas Energy this week, leaving the city’s utility pared back to the bone.
A release issued Thursday announced Alltrade Industrial Contractors Inc. of Cambridge, Ont., had acquired Ascent Utility Solutions for an undisclosed amount.
This small division of Ascent dealt with traffic and streetlights in the Greater Toronto Area and employed four or five non-union staff and any union staff were retained through a union hiring hall, according to Ascent acting CEO Rob Kent.
Alltrade operates in numerous sectors including automotive, food and beverage, manufacturing and its energy group works within the renewable energy sector, solar, water and wind and within the power and utilities sector.
The transaction does not include St. Thomas Energy, the local distribution company owned by the city and Ascent Energy Services which deals in fibre optics and provides IT services in the city. Continue reading

Imposed salary cap, hey we can dance around that


city_scope_logo-cmykNo disrespect to the hospital’s vice-president, but you can bet Nancy Whitmore was anything but the first choice to replace out-going president and CEO Paul Collins who exits on Oct. 31.

Whitmore will take over the helm in November, but the hospital board of directors did not hire healthcare recruitment firm The MedFall Group only to have them say look from within.

Back in March of this year we talked to board chair Melanie Taylor who asserted the hunt for a new president and CEO would be far-reaching.

“We’re looking to retain the best possible talent who could come from someplace other than southwestern Ontario,” advised Taylor. Continue reading

Why is STEGH shielding board of governors chairperson Melanie Taylor?


city_scope_logo-cmykSix years after the infamous Paul Collins retire/rehire shuffle, administrators at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital find themselves at the centre of another CEO controversy.

Coun. Linda Stevenson – the city’s representative on the board of governors – has tendered her resignation over allegations board chairman Melanie Taylor is attempting to circumvent a CEO salary cap imposed on STEGH and all hospitals in the province in order to make the position more “competitive.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Stevenson, who would like the ministry of health to come in and review the practices of the board of governors. Continue reading