The Markdale Standard
by Don Crosby
A response by the George Smitherman, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, to a petition presented by Bruce/Grey/Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch earlier this year seeking a commitment for a proposed new hospital for Markdale is encouraging, said Dr. Hamilton Hall.
Smitherman received the petition when he was still Minister of Health and Long Term Care. “Essentially what it said is that we have not forgotten your hospital. It’s still very much alive and well, and we’re still looking at it, which is very good news.” said Hall, during an interview on Friday.
Hall has been heavily involved in the fundraising for a proposed $50 million hospital to replace the aging Centre Grey Hospital in Markdale.
“The good news is we think we have more friends in the government in different places than we did before because Smitherman has always been a supporter, we have never doubted that, and David Caplan is also a supporter. So we now have two ministries that contain senior people that are supportive of our project.”
Earlier this year, Caplan replaced Smitherman as Long Term Care and Smitherman was appointed to a new super ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
Hall said he’s buoyed up by the response to the petition submitted by Murdoch and signed by several hundred local residents because it shows that the government hasn’t closed the door on the proposed hospital.
Until the government gives a flat out no to a proposal, it is alive and to date Markdale hasn’t been given a definitive no to its request for funding for a new hospital, Hall said. Residents have raised $13 million and are waiting for the government to approve putting up the rest of the money for a new hospital. Earlier this year, the former health minister said no funding was allocated for hospitals in the 2008 budget.
“Part of the problem is that no single ministry has the power it used to have. In the good old days, the health ministry decided what they were going to do and they did it but now health has to compete with infrastructure – health is up against people who want to build highways. Now it becomes a game of what is more important,” said Hall. Hall, who is the point man in the nonpolitical part of lobby by area residents, said he plans to reconnect with officials in the office of the new health minister David Caplan.
“Bill Murdoch wrote a letter to Caplan congratulating him on his appointment and reminded him about the new hospital in Markdale. So he is doing everything he can… Government doesn’t like to be made to look bad. “Our job is to quietly and politely keep the pressure on.”