County, local councils appear poised to ask province for more hospital money
November 22, 2012
Politicians across Lanark County are lining up behind a motion to support the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital.
Lanark County Warden John Gemmell sent out the motion to county council representatives this past Friday, Nov. 16.
Lanark County council representatives from Lanark Highlands (Mayor Peter McLaren), Drummond/North Elmsley (Reeve Aubrey Churchill) and Beckwith Township (Deputy Reeve Sharon Mousseau) have indicated their support for the motion to this newspaper. The motion was also sent to representatives from Perth, Tay Valley Township, Smiths Falls and Montague Township. The issue went before the Tay Valley Township committee-of-the-whole meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20, after this newspaper went to press. The motion is also likely to be discussed at the county council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
“Residents receiving health care services from the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital are concerned about the future of healthcare in Ontario,” read the motion, which has already was being circulated at Lanark Highlands Township council before their budget meeting this past Monday.
“Current economic realities at all government levels have necessitated a fiscally prudent method of governing our hospital to ensure that both a balanced budget, in tandem with excellent health care for our citizens remains a top priority.”
The OPSEU (Ontario Public Sector Employees Union) and CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) unions, under the umbrella group Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, is launching a campaign to get local citizens to pressure the provincial government to get more money for the hospital to help it eliminate its deficit without further cuts. County council members are now joining in a separate call for more money for the hospital.
“In order to assist the (hospital)… in its desire of meeting these two health care objectives, we ask the province of Ontario to consider providing special one-time funding to the (hospital) to help fund our community health care debt obligation, in order to provide a clean financial bill of health for all residents,” reads the motion.
“I think everyone around the table will be in favour,” said Mousseau. “It seems to be a trend. When there are debts it seems that it is essential services that are cut.”
She added that her own husband saw firsthand the strain that the Ontario health care system is under while he was being looked after at an Ottawa hospital. Her husband was enrolled in a two-week short-term home care program while he was “barely mobile.”
Mousseau hastened to add that in the intensive care unit, “that level was great. But you can see (elsewhere) that they are really strapped.”
Following the Monday budget meeting, McLaren recalled how, a year ago, while he was in hospital himself receiving IV treatments for an infection that, for each of the several nights he was at the local hospital, there was at least one patient who was spending a night in the emergency room because there was simply no room for them elsewhere.
Lanark Highlands Coun. Ken Sinclair noted that he himself moved to the area partially because his area of the township was only about 20 minutes away from the Great War Memorial Hospital site in Perth. Shutting down that site would add at least 20 minutes on to a journey to get to the Smiths Falls site.
As he watched the results pour in for the North Elmsley Ward by-election on Monday night, Churchill reiterated his support for a two-site hospital, since his residents use both.
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