Province under pressure to commit to new hospital in Whitby

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Published April 3, 2024 at 11:11 am

Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy and Whitby MP Ryan Turnbull at Wednesday's press conference

The public advocacy campaign to get the Province to fully commit to a new hospital in Whitby will continue, with local MP Ryan Turnbull wondering what Doug Ford’s government is waiting for.

“The site selection process was thorough and fair – I don’t know what the delay is,” Turnbull said at a Wednesday morning press conference hosted by Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy. “Every day they delay more families on the ground here in Whitby are not getting the care they need.”

“The funds have been allocated. But the Province is sitting on their hands.”

The community campaign to get the provincial government to stop dragging its feet and break ground on the much-needed facility was launched earlier this year after three budgets and two years of inaction from the provincial government on bringing the already-approved new hospital to Whitby.

Turnbull said his presence at the press conference was “not partisan,” noting it was important that everyone in the community continues pushing for the hospital to be built.

“It’s our job to raise our voices on this until the project moves forward,” he said. “Health care is an essential need.”

 

Lakeridge Health selected Whitby to host its seventh hospital back in January 2022. But provincial funding – a $3 million planning grant to get the project moving, for a start – is required and until recently there has been nothing but crickets from Queen’s park, with budgets passed in 2022 and 2023 (each chock-full of health care goodies) with no planning grant announced.

There were also accusations of backdoor shenanigans from Mayor Kevin Ashe in neighbouring Pickering, who wanted the hospital in his city limits, despite the planned location being right on the Whitby-Pickering border.

Ford finally declared this year the hospital would indeed be coming to Whitby but the 2024 budget came and went (with billions in health care spending) March 26 with no planning grant.

Thousands of Durham residents have joined Whitby’s advocacy campaign this year, signing a call-to-action letter or sharing their personal stories to help bring a new hospital to Durham and care closer to home.

Roy let Turnbull do most of the talking at the Wednesday news conference but she took time to thank residents who signed the petition and shared stories about the “urgent need” for the new hospital.

She also said Whitby MPP Lorne Coe was invited to the event and read out a brief statement from Ford’s parliamentary assistant on the hospital’s future.

“While we are not issuing any new planning grants right now, we will be building a new hospital situated in Whitby for the people of Durham Region,” Coe said. “Our government is working hard to deliver on the $50 billion worth of hospital projects already in the pipeline. While we work to get shovels in the ground on these projects, I will continue to work closely with staff at the ministry of health and our partners at Lakeridge Health to ensure we meet the health care needs of our growing community.”

The buildout for the facility – which could cost $2 billion when it is complete – is likely to be at least ten years, so further delays in getting it started only hurt the community, Turnbull noted.

““We can’t afford to let the families in this community down. We don’t need more words. We need action.”

The hospital, which will be south of Highway 407, west of Highway 412, east of Lake Ridge Road and north of Highway 7/Winchester Road, will be the only trauma centre between Toronto and Kingston.

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