County Commits To Hospital Funding

Essex County Warden Tom Bain and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens sign a letter to Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins January 25, 2016. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

County of Essex councillors are backing a plan to split the $200-million local share of the estimated $2-billion bill to build a new hospital and restructure healthcare services in Windsor-Essex.

The plan would see the county and City of Windsor split the cost based on population in 2026. The current projection shows the county on the hook for $93.6-million while the city would pay $106.4-million under the plan.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara thinks the cost sharing plan is a no brainer for local politicians.

“Nobody likes to increase taxes, but you know what? This is one area where it’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to contribute,'” says McNamara, calling the vote on the cost sharing plan likely the most important one county councillors will have for the remainder of their term. “It is now time for us to really unite and get behind this project.”

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen moved the motion to support the cost sharing plan which saw unanimous support from the council with only Leamington Mayor John Paterson absent.

“I think the basic funding concept is great,” says Queen. “How often do you see the City of Windsor and the county working collectively together? And this initiative is something they can’t say ‘no’ to especially when the province is on the hook for 90% of the cost.”

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya says questions over the site selection for the new hospital isn’t concern enough to withhold support for the project.

“The site’s been challenged; any site would be challenged, so I think we just brush that stuff aside,” says Antaya. “We’ve maintained our commitment to this project from the get-go. I don’t see any reason why we [wouldn’t be] continuing with that approach.”

The population figures determining the cost sharing would be plucked from the most up-to-date census data available in 2026.

The county has already begun to save for its share of the project.

City council is set to review the cost sharing plan at its meeting on Monday.