Premier says 'final decisions' on new hospital locations haven't been made
Hospital CEO says final location has been settled, adds zoning is all that needs to be finalized
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne responded to a question during her Windsor town hall about a perceived lack of local consultation on the mega-hospital site by saying it was her understanding "there haven't been final decisions made in terms of the exact locations."
But Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj doesn't see it that way. He said the site on County Road 42 has been finalized as the location for the acute care facility — all that needs to be finalized yet is zoning.
Musyj cited statements made by Minister of Health Eric Hoskins in December where the minister complimented the hospital on its consultation process and said the site selection was up to the local LHIN and hospital, not government.
The premier's answer was in response to a question from Philippa von Ziegenweidt from the Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process, who said there is "plenty of land, closer to the centre of the city," where the hospital could be built and asked for help ensuring residents have a chance to air their concerns before the hospital is built.
Von Ziegenweidt said the zoning process is important and means the site selection is not finalized.
"But do you know that as of today, the location of the new mega-hospital has never been discussed at city council. As of today our physicians, our city workers and strangely enough, even our community organizers have not been able to say anything because they are muzzled?" she asked Wynne.
The premier made her statement before a packed room at a town hall held at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, adding, "I know there are issues around urgent care downtown … but those decisions need to be made locally and I would implore are the local, elected representatives, that they include people with concerns in the conversation."
Wynne also faced questions on the auto sector, Highway 3 and mental health supports in the city during the town hall.
No politics behind auto sector snub
One attendee, who identified himself as an auto worker, asked about the decision to exclude the auto sector from a new guarantee of 10 days of emergency leave through the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act.
"Is there something politically motivated behind that considering you lost all of your seats in Windsor-Essex recently?" he asked, drawing hoots and applause from some in the crowd.
Wynne laughed at the man's suggestion, saying "there are auto workers all over this province, so this is not about a particular region."
She added contracts for workers in the auto sector are often already better than the guarantee from the government.
"It was really about people who are not being treated the way they should be and do not have fair workplaces," she explained. "That's not the case for the vast majority of auto workers who are under contract and have a different kind of workplace."
Promise of a meeting about Hwy 3
Essex County Warden Tom Bain took the town hall as an opportunity to call on Wynne for help completing the widening what he described as a "dangerous" stretch of Highway 3.
Tom Bain asks <a href="https://twitter.com/Kathleen_Wynne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kathleen_Wynne</a> about the Hwy 3 bypass. Calls it a dangerous situation that needs to be fixed. Premier promises a meeting with <a href="https://twitter.com/Kathryn_McGarry?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kathryn_McGarry</a>. <a href="https://t.co/iIZ4aVLJ9Z">pic.twitter.com/iIZ4aVLJ9Z</a>—@DanTaekema
The Premier said she was aware of the issue and promised Bain and county officials a meeting with Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry.
'We have nothing'
An emotional plea for more mental health services made by a mother at the town hall drew the largest applause and loudest shouts of support during the town hall.
She said her family had exhausted all mental health services in Windsor and now faced sending her 14-year-old son away from his family and loved ones for care.
"I want to know why Windsor has nothing. It seems like everything for mental health stops in London," she said.
Wynne responded by saying her government plans to increase funding to mental heath supports in the province.
"The bottom line is there is a need, not just in Windsor, but all over the province, for more mental health services, I acknowledge that."