Hospital administrators and elected officials from Windsor and Essex County have launched a social media campaign to show the provincial government this region wants a new hospital built.
Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Janice Kaffer, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Essex County Warden Tom Bain and NDP MPPs Taras Natyshak and Percy Hatfield asked residents Monday to start using the #WEareready hashtag to get the attention of the people who will ultimately decide if this $2 billion project moves forward.
Musyj said it was “historic” to have all of these politicians in the same room on the same side of an issue.
“The last thing they (the province) want to do is give the region $1.8 billion in investments for hospital healthcare and then the region says, ‘We don’t want that. We don’t need that. We don’t like any of that,’” said Musyj.
Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, who had another meeting scheduled, is also on board with this initiative. Dilkens, Bain and the three MPPs have sent a letter to Minister of Health and Long-term Care Eric Hoskins stating they are all unified in supporting the project.
The new hospital systems proposal, announced in July, includes a single-site acute care facility on the southeast corner of County Road 42 and Concession Road 9 in Windsor, as well as an urgent care facility on University Avenue West. Both would be operated by Windsor Regional.
HDGH will also receive an investment at its Tayfour Campus and take back its former site on Ouellette Avenue, which will be focused on mental healthcare, if the plan is approved.
Other communities in Ontario are also trying to secure funding for new hospitals. Natyshak, who came up with the social media idea, said showing everyone they are united could give the Windsor region a leg up.
“It aids in our work,” he said. “I haven’t yet heard from any members of any political stripe in the legislature who are in the same process. This is really a great opportunity for us to keep the issue on the hot burner.”
However, not everyone is on board with the proposal. Windsor Ward 4 Coun. Chris Holt, who has said he’s against the chosen site, voted against the city providing in principle its share of 10 per cent of total costs for the new hospital system.
The group Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process have also argued the hospital should be located closer to Windsor’s core area.
The owners of the property which placed second in the site selection process, despite beating the other property on criteria, has launched a conjunction against Windsor Regional and the owners of the chosen site.
Musyj said there is a “silent majority” which approves of the proposal and is starting to become vocal. This social media campaign is meant to help them express their support, he said.
“I have never been so bombarded in my life,” said Bain. “I can’t go to any sporting event or grocery store. I keep hearing, ‘Don’t lose that hospital.’”
The county and city councils both passed motions in December to collectively contribute $200 million to the project. A report on the way that money will be collected and the percentage split between the two governments should be brought to each council within the first quarter of this year, said Dilkens and Bain.
The hospital will finalize discussions on Stage 1B, the current planning stage, next month, said Musyj. If the hospital moves to Stage 2 of a five-stage process, the new hospital will officially be built, but it won’t have a definitive start date, he said.