Provincial movement on Whitby hospital demanded in Queen’s Park


Published February 29, 2024 at 4:53 pm

Oshawa MP Jennifer French has added her voice to the growing chorus calling on the Ontario government to start the development of the Whitby Hospital two years after the town was chosen to host.

In January 2022, after q months-long fight between Durham municipalities, Lakeridge Health chose a site near the intersection of Hwy. 412 and Hwy. 407 to host their sixth hospital in the region. The new critical care facility will add Whitby to the list of hospital hosts which now includes Ajax, Bowmanville, Oshawa, Port Perry and Uxbridge. The new facility is set to become the only trauma centre between Toronto and Kingston.

Lakeridge still required $3 million in funds from the Ontario government to get the site ready for construction and that cash infusion has not been forthcoming. A year after Lakeridge chose Whitby to host the new hospital, the funds had still not arrived, prompting then-newly elected Mayor Elizabeth Roy to demand the Province “reaffirm” the support.

“Whitby was chosen because it is centrally located in Durham near major highways and roadways, offering quick access from any direction so that those who need critical care can get it fast. This location in the heart of the region will be critically important for trauma services and will bring care closer to home for residents from across Durham. Our residents can’t wait any longer for this project to move ahead.”

So far they’ve had to wait yet another year. This prompted Roy to lead a public advocacy charge to demand action on the hospital. “For two years, we have waited patiently,” she said, “That’s why I’m asking residents to speak out and join our advocacy efforts.”

She started an online letter-writing campaign to get Whitby resident’s demands for the hospital to the Premier’s desk. (Those who wish to take part can do so here.)

Roy said at the time it’s past time to get the project started, By 2041, Lakeridge Health will need an estimated 1,793 hospital beds – more than double the current count – and by 2051 the Durham Region population is expected to grow to 1.3 million people.

“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.”

Days later she pulled in Whitby MP Ryan Turnbull to assist in the lobbying who met with Premier Doug Ford. “The site was selected fair and square through a meticulous process and extensive community consultations by an independent expert panel,” Turnbull said in a social media post. “We have everything in place to get started on this much-needed hospital.”

The renewed pressure appears to have helped. On Feb. 15, Ford appeared on CKDO Radio for an interview. During the discussion with host Terry Johnson, Ford confirmed:  “There’s going to be a Whitby hospital.”

However, he prefaced the assurance noting that while his parliamentary assistant Whitby MPP Lorne Coe is “on me all the time” about the hospital, Ontario is not issuing grants at the moment, but Durham is “right in line” when they resume. “Down the road, very shortly, we’ll be issuing the planning grant.”

Weeks later French joined the call in Queen’s Park. Noting Durham is among the fastest-growing Regions in Canada she said, “New neighbours are joining us every day and we need the healthcare infrastructure to support them. For two years families have been left waiting at our overburdened care centres.”

She stressed that of the Region’s seven MPPs, six are members of the Ford government. Uxbridge-Pickering MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy serves as finance minister and as such is responsible for funding the project. French asked Health Minister Sylvia Jones if she agreed Durham Region needed the new hospital.

Jones sidestepped the question instead noting there are 50 other capital spending bills in health care in the works, which as part of previous budgets, the NDP voted against. French again asked if and when the government would deliver the planning grant, and Jones again stressed other projects.


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