By Don Crosby
For The Markdale Standard
Bruce Grey Owen Sound candidate Kimberley Love, who is running for the Liberals, ended a tour of south Grey County on Thursday with a stop in Markdale to discuss the future of the new Centre Grey Hospital. Love was accompanied on the tour by Liberal health critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett.
During the tour through Markdale, Love and Bennett visited the site of the proposed new hospital then went on to see firsthand the conditions of the aging Centre Grey Hospital building.
Its been five years since the community submitted blueprints to the provincial ministry of health for approval.
Dr. Hamilton Hall, who was part of the welcoming committee, noted that the presence of the local federal Liberal candidate and the opposition health critic are important in raising the political awareness of plight of the need for a new hospital in Markdale.
“We are in a very political situation right now. The more people in government at all levels who realize the seriousness of our need and who are willing to support the cause I think this is important…Although the federal government doesn’t have a direct involvement in health care, they talk to the provincial people. So this is just one more voice added to the cry that Markdale needs a hospital,” Hall said.
“I’m so delighted to have the opportunity to show Carolyn around this part of the riding and to share with her some of the challenges facing our rural communities. I’ve been very involved in some of these issues in south Grey…and I know it’s easy for small communities to feel neglected,” said Love during the tour. “I want our communities here to know that I’m listening. That the Liberals are listening. And that we’ve carried back many of these concerns to the Liberal Party and made this riding part of the national conversation about building better rural policy,” she added.
The Liberals released their Rural Canada Matters platform earlier this year which includes plans for Canada’s first ever national food policy. Among the promises being made in the rural policy platform include plans to increase the number of doctors and nurses in rural communities by working with the provinces and territories to forgive the federal portion of student loans incurred up to a maximum of $20,000 nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners. The policy also calls for a Liberal government to guarantee 100% high speed internet connectivity within three years, along with $3,000 tax deductions for volunteer firefighters in recognition of the public service they provide their communities. As well the Liberals if elected promise to introduce a rural Canadian Postal Service charter to restore rural mail service and prevent any further erosion of the rural service.
In Dundalk, Love and Bennett heard from Southgate councillors about the difficulties experienced in recruiting a doctor to serve the community that has been without a doctor for the past couple of years. Councillor Dennis Evans noted the struggle involved in getting support from the Local Health Integration Network in a bid for seniors’ residence and alternative health care centre in Dundalk.
Mayor Don Lewis said there are better policies in place for the health and the care of farm animals than human residents of his community. “One of the biggest divides in this country is the urban/rural split and what we need to do is bridge that gap and show people that the Liberal Party is listening to rural Canada and we’ll put in place what we’re hearing on the ground,” said Bennett.