Whitby launches public campaign to urge Province get new hospital project underway

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Published February 7, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Lakeridge Health's preferred site for a new Durham hospital

January 2024 marked two years since an independent panel of experts chose a slice of land in Whitby as the preferred site for a new hospital serving Durham Region.

The date also marked two years since the Province began dragging their heels in announcing a shovel-in-the-ground date for the much-needed facility and Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy – who is on record suspecting political interference from neighbouring Pickering in the process – has had enough.

“For two years, we have waited patiently for the Province to approve a $3 million capital planning grant for Lakeridge Health and complete the land disposition process for the hospital site. These are the only roadblocks standing in the way of moving this hospital forward,” Roy said in a news release in announcing the Town of has launched a public advocacy offensive against the Province to commit to the hospital. “That’s why I’m asking residents to speak out and join our advocacy efforts.”

Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy

The Province of Ontario first recommended a new acute care hospital for Durham Region in 2015 and in January 2022 – following a transparent, two-stage site selection process – Lakeridge Health announced lands in Whitby as the preferred site for a proposed new hospital for Durham Region.

The site selected by Lakeridge Health is located south of Highway 407, west of Highway 412, east of Lake Ridge Road and north of Highway 7/Winchester Road in Whitby – hard on the border with Pickering.

“A future hospital in this central location with close proximity to major roads and highways, will serve residents from across Durham. This means that when seconds count, people will be able to get care quickly,” Roy said at the time of the announcement.

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Since then, Roy noted, “there has been zero action” from the Ontario government on the $3 million Planning Grant and land commitment required to move the project forward.

Roy said prior to the 2023 budget she was “hopeful” there would no political interference going on with politicians who have the Premier’s ear – Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe is a former Conservative candidate and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy (the author of the budget) – is also his MPP – but was not brimming with confidence the planning grant would be included.

“The reason we had the ‘independent’ process was to make sure there was no political interference,” she said, adding that the Province needs to “confirm support” for a new hospital in Whitby and put a stop to political and developer interference.

“We cannot allow the location of this new hospital to be influenced by politics or developer interests,” Roy said. “We also cannot allow this process to be delayed any further.”

Ashe, for his part, claimed last year the process in selecting the site, deliberately performed by hospital CEOs and health care leaders from outside Durham to avoid any political interference, was not “fair and transparent” because it was done by people outside of Durham Region.

Roy said it’s past time to get the project started, By 2041, Lakeridge Health will need an estimated 1,793 hospital beds -m more than double the current count – and Roy said it’s past time to get the project started.

“Our residents face overwhelming waits in the emergency department or to be admitted to the hospital. When seconds count, Toronto and Kingston are the only options for Durham residents who need trauma care,” she said. “We need more care closer to home, and we can’t wait any longer.

Roy is asking residents to go to  https://www.whitby.ca/en/town-hall/a-new-hospital-in-whitby.aspx to send a message to the Province about why healthcare close to home and a new hospital in Durham matter. “All messages will be emailed directly to the Premier to highlight why this hospital matters – now.”

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