(St. Thomas, ON) – The release of Ontario’s budget this week has left more questions than answers for residents of Elgin County. The big questions revolve around the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s announcement that the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital redevelopment project needs to be ‘rescoped.’
Most residents of Elgin-Middlesex-London will remember Health Minister Deb Matthews making a highly publicized announcement in St. Thomas confirming the approval of the STEGH redevelopment plan during the election in September. The government has now backtracked on that commitment in grand fashion.
Despite area municipal and community leaders holding up their end of the bargain through fundraising and planning efforts, the government has left them in the dark. MPP Jeff Yurek has written a letter and personally called the Minister to get her to offer some clarity on the project’s future: these efforts have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Yurek noted that the project will be a big boon to the area as the hospital is the second largest employer. However, with the government’s announcement, there is no timeline or budget for the project. Yurek also questions the motives of Minister Matthew’s announcement in the fall.
“Ontario’s fiscal reality is nothing new. It was clear back in September that Ontario faced a $16 billion deficit,” said Yurek, “if the Minister knew she couldn’t follow through on the investment why would she make this promise?”
“It’s time for the Minister to quit playing games here,” declared Mr. Yurek, “we’re talking of a vitally important investment in our community that affects people’s lives. It’s disrespectful to give people hope and yank it away for shallow political reasons.”
Yurek remains committed to prodding the Minister until she provides an adequate solution to a problem that she and her government created. Mr. Yurek has been in communication with Paul Collins and the two will work together with municipal leaders to overcome the uncertainty created by the Minister.
“The government made sure to blame every other factor for the province’s fiscal situation except their own spending habits. They’ve made great statements of how their new budget will protect investment in the things that matter: health care and education. However, we’re beginning to experience what 8 years of imprudent spending gets us. Worst of all, the Liberals needed to lie to us about the state of affairs in order to get elected. It’s time the government take some responsibility and be honest with the public.”
“Minister Deb Matthews and Premier Dalton McGuinty knew full well the financial strain of the province when they made this promise during the election. They blatantly lied to my constituents.” – MPP Jeff Yurek, Elgin-Middlesex-London
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