By DENIS LANGLOIS, SUN TIMES STAFF
Published in the Owen Sound Sun Times
MPP Bill Walker says he will not let up on the fight for a new hospital for Markdale.
“The people are keen. The need is there. Rural Ontario is being ignored totally by the Liberals. Health care is obviously critical to everyone. So let’s do the right thing and get this one on the docket, as promised, and get it built,” the Bruce-Grey- Owen Sound Progressive Conservative said in an interview.
Walker voted in the Ontario Legislature last week to support a private member’s bill, tabled by his Tory colleague MPP Rob Leone, that calls on the McGuinty government to follow through on promised expansions and hospital builds in Ontario.
Passed in a 54-50 vote, which is non-binding, the motion directs the Liberals to present a report by March 2012 that lays out the costs, completion deadlines and financing plans for promised hospital improvement projects.
“Markdale residents have been promised for years that they would get their hospital built, yet, here we are today, still calling on the government to get our hospital project on its five-year capital plan,” Walker said in a news release.
“After years of broken promises, Ontarians have lost trust in this government, and that’s why it’s so important to hold them accountable on their word.”
Walker said he plans to create and present a petition to Queen’s Park that calls on the Liberal government to commit to building the Markdale hospital.
More than $13 million has been raised in the community for the construction of a new Markdale hospital to replace the near 60-year-old Centre Grey Hospital.
The Liberal government announced in 2006 a $3-million grant to fund the project’s initial planning and design stage.
Three years later, the province said building a new hospital for Markdale was a priority for the Ontario government, even though a shovel hasn’t gone into the ground.
Walker, in his news release, said “poor management” by the Liberals has limited their ability to properly fund needed projects in rural Ontario, and, specifically, “the people of Markdale and surrounding area are paying the price and continue to go without” a new facility.
“I took a walk through the current hospital a month and a half ago . . . and it is dilapidated. It’s beyond it’s time,” Walker said in an interview.
“There’s an opportunity here for (the province) to build a new rural model. You’ve got money in the bank. Let’s find a creative way to get it done.”