Today's date: Thursday August 21, 2014 Vol 47 Issue 34
   
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County committee to hear funding requests from five hospitals

by Kris Svela

ABOYNE

Political manoeuvring for Wellington County funding for hospitals is now stepping outside county boundaries.

The county administration, finance and personnel (AF&P) committee meeting set for June 17 in Aboyne will now include five hospital delegations, including a funding request from hospitals in Orangeville and Georgetown.

Originally the committee was supposed to hear specifics about a $9-million joint funding request from Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus, Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest and Palmerston and District Hospital.

The funding request would see $5 million go towards construction of a new Groves hospital in Aboyne and $4 million split between the two northern hospitals for facility upgrades.

The original request came to county council in March from Jerome Quenneville, CEO of the three county hospitals.

Council decided to defer the issue until it received detailed information on how much, if anything, lower tier municipalities were going to contribute, and on specifics about what the money was going towards.

The matter was sent to the AF&P committee, which on June 17 was to hear details on the funding breakdown before the issue went to county council on June 26.

Committee chairman John Green initially was prepared to hear presentations from the three county hospitals. Green said he received a telephone call last week informing him that a delegation request had been delivered to the county from either the Orangeville or Georgetown hospital. Both hospitals were placed on the committee agenda.

According to Green, if the hospitals had not been placed on the agenda he would not have considered supporting them.

“They made a request to AF&P,” he told the Advertiser. “They’re not a county hospital so I wouldn’t have entertained them.”

Green called the move to have requests brought in from outside hospitals “orchestrated,” but declined to elaborate.

Warden Chris White was aware of the request received by the county, but did not know from which of the two out-of-county hospitals it came from.

County clerk Donna Bryce said the county requested that all hospitals expected to attend the AF&P meeting file a formal request with the county by June 11.

White said the decision by outside hospitals to file funding requests with the county was “political,” but he also declined to elaborate.

The request has sparked a campaign from Erin county councillors Lou Maieron and Ken Chapman, who oppose county funding of the three Wellington hospitals.

Maieron said his council made a $10,000 donation to hospitals used by Erin residents, including $5,000 to Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville.

“They were aware the county was looking at funding hospitals,” Maieron said when contacted by the Advertiser. “We told them (Orangeville) to go to the county.”

Maieron said he was surprised the two new delegations were put on the AF&P agenda and suggested they should be meeting directly with county council.

The Erin mayor has said a $9-million contribution from Wellington County would translate into a $1.4-million share from Erin taxpayers.

“Why should my people pay $1.4 million to Palmerston when they are not getting anything for it?” he asked. “I’m okay with the county matching what the community raises.”

Maieron said he believes local donations should cover the individual hospital’s service area.

White pointed to the provincial government requirement that any money it provides to a hospital be matched by a 10 per cent local fundraising commitment.

Failing that, the warden said, could result in provincial funding for local hospital projects being removed.

“When we discussed hospitals the sense was we would be funding county hospitals only. AF&P will look at it and decide if it will go to county council or not,” White said of the outside requests expected to come to the committee on June 17.

Joan Burdette,  executive director of the Headwaters Health Care Foundation, said she would not disclose how much the hospital is seeking from the  county until its AF&P presentation on June 17.

K.C. Carruthers, executive director of the Georgetown Hospital Foundation, said the hospital is looking for support based on the number of users from the county.

“The town of Halton Hills and Ministry of Health have each contributed $2.7 million and Halton Healthcare Services is providing the balance,” said Carruthers. “We are close to the end of the $6.75-million capital campaign, which has also received support from the Town of Erin. We are asking Wellington County to give a gift relative to the support of the town of Halton Hills but scaled down based on usage of Georgetown Hospital by families who live in Wellington County.”

Vol 47 Issue 24

June 13, 2014

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