This is Burlington’s most important election in decades, Jo Brant Hospital redevelopment in peril under Hudak


Our Burlington was created to reduce the information deficit that was described and defined in the Shape Burlington report.  As part of this initiative we asked the Progressive Conservative, the New Democratic and the Liberal party candidates to provide material on two features.  The first was an opinion piece on what each candidate thought was not in the best interests of Ontario and Burlington in the other  party’s platform.  The Liberals and the New Democrats participated in the editorial feature.  The Progressive Conservatives declined.

 The second editorial feature was an opportunity for each candidate to set out their political party’s platform.  Today our readers hear from Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran.  Later this week you will hear from Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna.

By Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate for Burlington

BURLINGTON, ON  September 26, 2011 — There’s no question: this is the most important provincial election for Burlington in decades… because the Liberal government-commitment to redevelop Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital remains at stake. When it came to our hospital, here’s how the Hudak PCs treated Burlington voters.

This summer, after the McGuinty Liberal government officially endorsed the hospital’s $312 million redevelopment plan, Mr. Hudak stopped in Burlington. The resulting September 16th Post story quoted him saying this:

“If Tim Hudak becomes Premier on Oct. 6, there is no guarantee the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment will be completed under a Progressive Conservative government.”

Five days later, after Ted McMeekin and I held a news conference, Tim Hudak changed his position. He agreed “there is a definite need” but said only a redeveloped hospital “will be a priority” if he forms a government.

Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran at a press conference with fellow Liberal Ted McMeekin

We all know a “priority” is not a “commitment,” so for me, nothing has changed – especially when you look at Hudak’s record. Early on, he vowed to scuttle the HST but later admitted it was OK and he wouldn’t change it. Around the same time, he scoffed at full-day kindergarten, then flip-flopped on that issue as well. The Hudak PCs just seem to make up policy as they go along… when they see a backlash.

To give him his due, Hudak did make a commitment in the earlier Post story; he will definitely proceed with the Mid-Peninsula Highway, which will pave over valuable farm and sensitive escarpment lands in north Burlington.

Here’s the bottom line: the Hudak PCs want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a highway right through his riding that will shave a few minutes off the trip to Highway 401 for truckers from Buffalo and Fort Erie. And to do it, he’ll throw the Jo Brant Hospital redevelopment under a truck.

Put simply, Mr. Hudak’s preference of highways over our hospital is just NOT acceptable to the thousands of voters I’ve spoken to. And the $14 Billion hole in the Hudak PC platform tells me he’ll be doing a lot of slashing in education, health care and other programs that Ontarians deem vital. For instance, to help pay for 229 uncosted promises in his platform, watch him revert back to form when he was a minister in the Harris PC cabinet. Back then, they downloaded billions of dollars of services to towns, villages and cities across the province.

The Harris/Hudak downloads were a huge burden on municipalities, robbing their ability to use property taxes the way their voters chose. Since 2003, the McGuinty government has uploaded the lion’s share of this municipal burden and promises to continue doing it so councils across Ontario can help keep property tax hikes to an absolute minimum. Here in Burlington, the Liberal government uploads now saved the city $4.5 million in 2011 alone.

If we want a redeveloped hospital, Burlington can’t afford a Hudak PC government. If we want to preserve the agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands north of Dundas that make our city the jewel that it is, we can’t afford a Hudak PC government.

I’m the grocer’s son, raised on Ontario Street by parents who stressed the importance of community. I made a conscious decision to return to Burlington after law school to practice here. I was on the Board of Jo Brant Hospital for five years, helped found Carpenter Hospice and continue to organize runs that raise money for various worthy causes.

We’re now less than two weeks away from choosing our government in the provincial election. As Premier McGuinty has often said, what we have achieved together over the past eight years is little short of amazing.

The Liberal government’s unwavering commitment to education has put our system back on track – with smaller class sizes, higher test scores and full day kindergarten.

We have built 18 new hospitals, (the Harris/Hudak team closed 28), expanded or renovated 100 others and more than a million Ontarians now have a family doctor.

And our economy has created more full-time jobs than the rest of Canada combined.

Now, moving forward to create a better, brighter future for our families depends solely on the party Ontarians choose to lead on October 6th.

The Hudak PCs and the Horwath NDP have played politics and flip-flopped on too many important issues that matter to Ontario families. One would think they would have their

Burlington Councillors Rick Craven and Marianne Meed Ward support Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran at press event.

differences, but in fact, they have voted together an astounding 183 times against such initiatives as:

Funding for full-day kindergarten

The $1,100 benefit that is helping more than a million low-income children

Infrastructure stimulus projects that created 70,000 jobs

Second career retraining that has helped more than 47,000 Ontario workers to date.

Over the next five years, the McGuinty Liberal government plans to invest close to $8 billion in new hospitals, creating 79,000 jobs. Remember, the Harris/Hudak PCs closed 28 hospitals – after making repeated pre-election promises that they wouldn’t cut health care.

And after they closed these hospitals, the PCs told families they’d have to travel to other communities to get care or visit sick relatives.

Now, the Hudak PCs are at it again. Their platform has no money for building hospitals. The only capital projects they mention are highways.

The Hudak PCs have promised $14 billion in tax cuts and unfunded giveaways that will surely mean cuts to health care and hospitals. The Horwath NDP would introduce a crushing $9 billion in job-killing taxes. Remember too that the last time the NDP formed a government, the health system didn’t have the resources to invest in hospitals because of their disastrous economic policies and they cut medical school spaces, creating a crisis in family medicine.

As your Liberal MPP at Queen’s Park, I will deliver strong representation on these provincial issues – especially those that affect us in Burlington.

Let’s move forward! Together!

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