Submission of Mayor Randy Hope

To: Ontario Health Coalition

Date: March 4, 2010-03-17

Transcribed:nMarch 17, 2010

To the Coalition, first of all I want to thank you for your time, I know that its an effort that we are getting across the province but there are a number of concerns and I like the way everybody is speaking.  We have heard from Community Living, the impact it’s going to be to rural communities.

From my perspective as a leader of a community, a rural community, I think its important that we need to understand not only is it about a hospital being closed or closure of hospital or centralization of services but those that are going to be impacted like that of Community Living and others.

We talk about the issue of economic development and let me tell you its one of the key cornerstones when you’re out there promoting your community about economic investment is making sure there is quality health care there.   And by providing that quality health care is not a 20 minute travel down 40 Highway or down the 401 or down number 2 or down any of these communities.

We talk about the issues of doctors in our rural communities and making sure there is health care provided there.  This isn’t something new; I dealt with this when I was in the provincial government.  I dealt with it before I was there.

How are we suppose to encourage young doctors to come and practice in smaller communities if we centralize the service that they don’t have the ability to understand the quality of life that is associated in some of these small communities. They don’t want to be working 16, 17, 18 hours a day, they also want to enjoy the quality of life with their children, and enjoy the quality of life that is in that community.

So it is significantly important to make sure that the hospitals that are here and especially the one here in Wallaceburg stays and we provide the service mechanisms so that they can expand their quality of education and expand themselves.

A lot of things have changed since 1990 as far as a doctor’s ability to get formal information.  I mean when I was in Queen’s Park there wasn’t such thing as an email or computer systems there is today. Now you have video conferencing and everything else that’s there. It’s so significantly important to make sure that those services are there and the young doctors are able to mentor themselves.  We should be looking at mentor programs to make sure that young doctors will locate here.

This municipality spends significant amount of money in doctor recruitment and getting doctors in this community and we’re not getting any better.  I’m not going to point my finger at Chatham and I’m not going to point my finger at the LHIN.  I think it’s an overall strategy that we got to make sure we can do.

I want to talk to the issue that’s been brought up around some of the tables I’ve been at, it is about development charges.  You know currently when we build the new hospital, the foundation has to come up with some money and guess when the foundation has a difficult time making that money, raising the money in a community, they go to the municipal government.

I never knew that it was the responsibility of the municipal government to fund hospitals anymore.  I thought government was talking about uploading.  If you are going to take away community social services and other things from the municipal budget don’t download the hospital costs associated with building new hospitals or building expansions to hospitals.  That can be simply changed by allowing municipal government to put into development charges about the future, about hospitals in our community.  It’s a simple change of legislation that the Premier can do to allow the municipalities to put development charges in there so we start taking care of the needs there.  They have a prime example that is working well, and they need to understand that when they centralize children’s services they centralize their own building.

Today they are funding Best Start programs throughout all our schools and what we are doing is taking the services to the people.  Why are we talking about closing a hospital here and moving it there and having the people move there, it’s against their whole theory.

One department of community and social services and children’s services are talking about decentralizing when the Ministry of Health is talking about centralizing.  We understand the issues and even their own statistics, talk about the aging population and about the ability to afford health care but they are adding extra costs to everybody.

If someone has an aging parent and lets face it, in rural communities their child’s probably living in Guelph or Toronto where the jobs are and their aging parent is here so they have to bother a neighbour to drive them to the hospital and I’m sure you’ll hear those stories today.  But those are of significant importance; we talk about the quality of life, we talk about the abilities of young people to stay in their communities and enjoy, and be supportive.

I knew when I grew up my parents still lived here and I lived near my parents.  Today parents grow up the children are somewhere else and we depend on others to provide their healthcare.

Look at the stats that are in this community, we talk about an aging population; we talk about us being unfit.  How many times have I heard we have a high cancer rate and everybody’s unfit, fat and overweight in this community?  That’s what I keep hearing.  But you know the thing is we are talking about diminishing the services that are required.

The hospitals can be a key mechanism to moving the government to where it needs to go.  Now I’m not going to blame the Liberals, and I’m not going to blame the Conservatives and I’m not going to blame the New Democrats because I served there too.  But let me tell you all governments need to understand what’s been going on.  They’ve been trying to do something but it’s not working.  So why don’t we talk to the people in the community.

You know the best thing we found out here in the community of Wallaceburg that really works is when we put a task force in place and we discovered that we can now make economic recovery in this community.  What they need to do is look at the hospitals and the catchment areas that they are talking about and implement a similar strategy on how you make health care systems work.  Let the people decide whether they need one facility or they need multitudes of facilities because I’m going to tell you, I would like a hospital in Chatham, a hospital in Wallaceburg and a hospital in Tilbury then I know the communities of Chatham-Kent are going to be properly served.

But you know I hear the stories, and I know I only have a few more minutes but I want to talk not as a Mayor of a community but as a husband who lost his wife.  And I made a commitment to my wife when she died.

One of the things I blame is number one that we didn’t have a family doctor.  I lost my wife in 5 weeks, first day diagnosed with cancer on August 16 and they buried her September 25.  One of the reasons was I didn’t have access to a family physician the other part is when they did diagnose it, it was too late.  She had breast, bone and lung cancer.

And the thing is we sit there and we talk about getting doctors in this community, drop by 2 percentage points and you’ll get enough doctors and we’ll be able to.  What’s instead of having a 98 % average, you have 97 % average or 96 % average you’ll probably recruit more doctors here and use a mentor program.  Use some of your senior doctors who have been overworked and make sure you utilize them to mentor the younger doctors to be good practitioners in our communities.  That’s where we need to focus.

But you know I always blamed the fact that we wouldn’t stand in line to wait cause if we started identifying submissions in June and we wouldn’t wait in the emergency room for 6 hours to find out what was causing her sore back until it got to the point when she couldn’t take the pain anymore.  And the pain started in June and by August 16 she couldn’t take the pain anymore so she went to the emergency room and sat there for 5 ½  hours.  I received the call at 3:15 that day when she told me that she had cancer.  That tells me that people are neglecting the needs of their health because they don’t want to wait in the emergency room for hours for service if they don’t have a family physician.

So I’m saying to the governments, the coalition, there’s a simple message. I’m not a specialist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, I couldn’t tell you how to run an MRI or x-ray machine but what I can tell the government is if you actually believe in what you say about consultation.

I’m glad that the First Nations community brought their paper up today because I have been trying to live by that paper. About the right to protocol, about the right to consult, that if we actually took the time to talk to the people in this community I believe we won’t have deficit situations, I believe we will have health care systems whether its family health teams we have to establish in our communities, you’ll see government, you’ll see communities rally to support new equipment and everything else.  That is where we are going to gather people because once people feel empowerment of decision making they make things work.

An example is here in this community, Wallaceburg, when we empowered the people to give them jurisdiction in economic development what have we been able to come up with.  It’s taken us a bit of time but what did we come up with.  We come out with a 2020 Vision, we come out with community task force in specific areas and we’ve been able to bring economic opportunities to this community.

So don’t travel around the province with your committees because let me tell you I have to travel around province and I’m sure you’ve travelled around the province on these special committees that go around.  Let me tell you when the report finally comes out its quite different from what you’ve heard in the process but I think what is very significant to the government, any government whether they broke today and will be back March 8 (the government of Ontario) and its only a short break so I’m not going to be too critical of that, but I think what they need to do if we are really to move this Province and this country we really have to sit back and relax and start to empower people of every category whether it be the Health professional or the person receiving the services.

Its unfortunate the person who has a sore on his foot has to travel to two different places, now let’s come up with an answer.  Don’t tell me we can’t do it, tell us how we can do it and ask the people on how we can make a better Health Care system because I am concerned with this hospital closing.  Am I going to be able to afford another 2 more ambulances that are going to be required in this municipality, another ambulance station that I may have to try find a new home and if I can’t find a home, build a new fire station in order to accommodate that?  There’s a lot of added cost and we are going to hear more today, so Jeff to you and the committee who are travelling the province, is there a true answer to how you fix health care in the system?   I don’t believe there is until you go to the people and understand what the people need in order to provide health care for their community and I think its really important that as we start to move forward, whatever government, federal provincial government, in order to bring this country back to where it needs to be, we have to go back and think about what happened in the past.  How did we make things work?

Because we worked together as a unified body in a community and as a country we were able to bring us to where we are.  But we kind of got into our own little silos now and we don’t want to give away my turf.  And we’ve done that with Children’s services in this community.  At first we were with our own little silos, now we’ve integrated our services and we’re out there reaching.  You know David talked about the issue with closing the Southwest Regional site.  It was painful, we lost a lot of jobs but what did it do, it added economic opportunities in our community and made people feel an active part of life.

So to you and your committee, I wish you the best in your endeavours.  You know strong voices are always there but there is some concern about you talking about this issue of health care provided.

I’m going to raise one question that hasn’t been raised, the issue of building new hospitals and the pressures that will be put on the tax payers in this community and if the government doesn’t make legislative changes to allow development charges so that we don’t have to go to the taxpayers in this community and levy a 2% or 3% tax increase to help come up with our 50% funding for building a new hospital in our community and that will be the concern if they close this one.

What happens to the Chatham facility and when the Chatham facility realizes its not capable and doesn’t have the ability, it needs to build a new wing or build a new building where is the money going to come from to build that new building?  It will come from the tax payers in this community that will have to be pressured onto the municipal government to put a levy so we can help pay for a new hospital.  Because we know how health care is important to every citizen in this community because their all stats saying what’s the number one priority of the right of the people of Canada – health care.  So empower them to make decisions and where they want to be.