Ontario reaffirms stage-two funding for new hospital

Ontario Premier Doug Ford at the site of the new acute care hospital, October 18, 2021. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

The Ontario government has made the next stage of planning for Windsor-Essex’s acute care hospital a reality.

Premier Doug Ford visited the County Road 42 site of the hospital Monday afternoon, announcing that the government has signed off on a previously announced allocation of $9.8-million for stage two of the hospital’s development. The money was included in this year’s provincial budget.

“Once complete, it will bring acute care services at the new hospital site,” said Ford. “It will be replacing outdated infrastructure with a high-tech facility and support better-connected care in the region. Urgent care and outpatient services will remain at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette site, so patients and their families in downtown Windsor will have continued access with no disruption.”

The funding for this phase of the plan was announced by the previous government in 2017. However, the money never flowed thanks in part to concerns surrounding legal battles over the hospital’s location.

Ford made the announcement with Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj, Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Janice Kaffer, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

As part of the hospital planning, 68 acute mental health beds are expected to be shifted to Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, to improve access to those services.

Musyj said with the allocation confirmed the hospital planning team will get started immediately to work out exactly what will be a part of the acute hospital moving forward.

“This is really how you define, in words, what the hospital is going to look like,” said Musyj. “What are the programs, what’s the staffing, what’s the major equipment going to look like.”

A consultant has already been hired to complete this work. It is expected to take 18-24 months to complete and will include extensive public consultation.

Once the plans are complete, further funding will need to be committed before shovels are in the ground. Musjy estimates the region could see a finished hospital is 5-7 years if everything proceeds smoothly from this point.

The premier also announced an increase in funding for both of Windsor’s hospital systems. Windsor Regional Hospital will receive an additional $7.8-million, or a 2.2 per cent increase, and Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare will get a 2.1 per cent increase, or $1.57-million.  These funds were also included in the 2021 budget.