Oshawa not giving up fight for Durham’s next hospital

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Published February 1, 2022 at 11:04 am

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The City of Oshawa is not ready to give up the fight to host the region’s next hospital – despite a decision late last year that their bid had been rejected because it didn’t meet one of the criteria – and is demanding Lakeridge Health release all submissions for public review.

“I have been very frustrated by the process,” said Mayor Dan Carter at Monday’s special meeting of Council. “I will continue to advocate why we are best suited to host the hospital.”

Capital Hill Group, a communications and consulting firm out of Ottawa, attended the meeting virtually to give a presentation on their report on the process to the public.

Based on evidence and growth projections, Lakeridge Health is planning for inpatient bed growth of almost 1,000 beds to meet projected demand over the next 25 years. And anchoring this plan is the construction of a new acute care hospital.

Lakeridge Health invited municipalities to bid on the project last year and received bids from Pickering, Whitby and Oshawa. Oshawa, in fact, submitted two sites: a 26-hectare site at the southwest corner of Simcoe Street and Britannia Avenue (owned by Ontario Tech) and a 24-hectare site at the northeast corner of Simcoe and Highway 407 (owned by the provincial ministry of transportation).

Whitby, with a 160-acre site picked out near Highways 412 and 407, and Pickering, on property near Lakeridge Road and Highway 407, were the other bidders.

In December Oshawa was told they out of the running because their sites were less than 10 kilometres from an existing hospital (Lakeridge Health Oshawa) and early in the new year Pickering also received their Dear John letter.

That turn of events had Oshawa Councillor Brian Nicholson crying foul, saying the decisions were “politically motivated.” It also prompted Nicholson to offer a couple of motions of his own Monday, including one that urged that the membership of the Board of Directors of the Lakeridge Health Corporation be amended to more be more reflective of the population.

There are currently five members from Whitby on the board. Oshawa has one representative.

The second motion brought forward by Nicholson was that Lakeridge Health “guarantee” that current services at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, such as emergency services, day surgery and in-house patient surgeries are not impacted by the new hospital.

Councillor John Gray said the top-heavy Whitby representation on Lake Ridge Health Board of Trustees makes it clear there was “absolute bias” against Oshawa in the bidding process. “We don’t think they looked at the whole picture when making the decision. They ignored some pretty important criteria,” he said, citing the proximity of the Oshawa sites to the university as well as to the Oshawa Airport.

Councillor Bob Chapman agreed. “It’s not Johnny take-your-bat-and-g-home, I just think there’s things that have been missed.”

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