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It is going to happen –Joe Brant is getting an upgrade. No operating rooms soon though, parking garage comes first.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 11, 2010 The announcement to expand Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is a reason to celebrate,” said Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate in Burlington.

Hamilton Mountain MPP Sophia Aggelonitis and Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MPP Ted McMeekin, on behalf of Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews, announced funding for the long awaited expansion of the hospital.

“As a kid, I lived two blocks from Joseph Brant and I determined some day I would be part of that great hospital. Like you, I have seen Joseph Brant neglected by one government after another and not receive needed expansion funding. As a member of the Hospital Board that put the strategic plan together over the last two years, I am proud to see the McGuinty government respond to our plan and approve the expansion,” Sakran said.

Anyone who was anybody was there – but not a dollar to be seen from the provincial government

Anyone who was anybody was there – but not a dollar to be seen from the provincial government

Sakran said one of the reasons he’s running is the McGuinty Government’s commitment to healthcare. “Dalton McGuinty expands and builds new hospitals. Unlike the previous PC government which shut the doors on 28 hospitals during the Harris/Hudak years” said Sakran

“I congratulate our community and the government for working together in a co-operative spirit that is moving us forward. Now we must carefully engage in the planning process to ensure that we get the expansion right for the people of Burlington,” said Sakran.

That was Karmel Sakran’s take on the announce made Wednesday afternoon at an elaborately event that included a large white tent for the assembled dignitaries who made speech after speech – but the odd part was that no one said exactly how much money the government was going to spend or what kind of a partnership there would be or when construction would start. The audience was told that the hospital was going to be expanded – that is WAS going to happen.

It would help if the financing of the upgrade were a little clearer. Burlington citizens have had a small levy for the hospital improvement added to their tax bills – $4 for every $100,000 of assessment. And the city has $4.8 million sitting in a bank account that the hospital would like to see sent their way yesterday, but that money isn’t going to move until there is a Memorandum of Agreement in place.

The hospital foundation has said it will raise $60 million – so we have $120 million coming from the community.

Ted McMeekin announcing that the government will put up some of the money for a major upgrade to the hospital.  Didn’t say how much or when the check might be in the mail.  Burlington has committed $60 million.  I thought health was a provincial responsibility.

Ted McMeekin announcing that the government will put up some of the money for a major upgrade to the hospital. Didn’t say how much or when the check might be in the mail. Burlington has committed $60 million. I thought health was a provincial responsibility.

McMeekin, who was once a patient at the hospital, didn’t put out any numbers but the hospital has been working with a figure of $312 million. The understanding is that the province will use its Alternative Funding Plan (AFP) to get the hospital upgraded. The AFP is a plan that has private contractors building the hospital and then maintaining it for a period of time, in this case reportedly through to 2043, during which time the contractors will see something in the order of $1 billion flow their way. Sort of like the 407 – forever and ever kind of thing.

Hospitals are very complex structures and it will take some time to get the plans drawn up. Eric Vanderwall, President and Chief Executive Officer of the hospital corporation, is said to have put out a date of 2017 before new patients get treated at the hospital.

Later on Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring put out a press release saying the announcement is good news for the people of Burlington. He called it “an awesome day, an historic day,” for the city. “No one wants to end up in hospital, but when you do, you want the best care possible as close to home as possible. Thanks to the hard work of the previous mayor and council, the current council and our provincial funding partners, the dream of a redeveloped hospital can become a reality.”

In December 2009, city council approved not more than $60 million as a municipal contribution for the proposed hospital redevelopment plan.  The city is working on a memorandum of understanding and contribution agreement with the hospital that will outline when and how Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital will receive the city funding.

The city began collecting $1.2 million in 2010 and 2011 through a special tax levy. City Council earmarked $2.4 million from previous years’ surpluses, and now has $4.8 million committed in a reserve fund earning interest. The tax levy amounts to $4 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

“The city has shown leadership in committing $60 million for the hospital redevelopment, and taxpayers have confirmed they think this money should be spent on improving our community hospital,” said Steve Zorbas, acting city manager. “We now need to look at next steps, working with the hospital and our community to raise the money needed to complete the redevelopment project.”

“The estimated cost for Phase 1 of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment is more than $300 million. The planned local share is $120 million. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $60 million through a fundraising campaign in addition to the city’s contribution of $60 million”, said Goldring.

So far all Burlington has is this nice drawing.  No financial commitment from the province and no start date for the project.  We are told it will be six storeys high.  The Pier will open before they start digging any holes in the ground.

So far all Burlington has is this nice drawing. No financial commitment from the province and no start date for the project. We are told it will be six storeys high. The Pier will open before they start digging any holes in the ground.

A much needed upgrade is now a certainty, according to provincial government Ministers and every one of them will tell you there is no link between the announcement and the forthcoming provincial election. Right.

 

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