WEEDC launches acute care hospital campaign ‘WE Can’t Wait’

CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation, Stephen MacKenzie, attends the regular meeting of council for the Town of Essex on November 21, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation is wading into the fight to get construction started on a new acute care hospital in Windsor-Essex.

It is launching a new digital campaign called “WE Can’t Wait,” which will mobilize frontline medical workers, business leaders, labour unions, community groups, and the public.

WEEDC CEO and President Stephen MacKenzie said the campaign is needed because Windsor-Essex “can’t wait” any longer for construction to start.

“I will have been here four years at the end of August, and this project, which is so crucial to support the Windsor-Essex regional economy, has not progressed at all,” he said. “When you multiply that with this current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s laid bare the inadequacies of the current hospital infrastructure. It’s more important than ever.”

Through social media, participants can voice their support and let the province know residents are behind a new acute care hospital.

“Unfortunately, over the last four years, if the hospital was in the news, it was because somebody was opposing it,” explained MacKenzie, referring to the group Citizens for an Accountable Mega Hospital Planning Process.

CAMPP is fighting the location of the project on County Road 42 at Concession 9. It had argued, first to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, and then to a Divisional Court that the City of Windsor did not consider the most up to date information and did not follow its own procedures rezoning the land.

A Divisional Court judge reserved his decision last month whether to reconsider the LPAT’s ruling in favour of the city and Windsor Regional Hospital.

According to a study by KPMG, the regional economy stands to benefits from the equivalent of 13,000 full-time jobs if the project goes ahead.

MacKenzie agreed development begets development, and the longer the hospital project is put on hold, the greater impact that will have on efforts to attract new investment to the region.

“It doesn’t help. I can say that,” confessed MacKenzie. “Every day that goes by that we aren’t moving this project forward makes our pitch a little bit harder.”