WRH Health Minister Visit-18Following last week’s announcement that planning for the new Windsor-Essex Hospitals System is moving forward, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, spoke to members of the media and answered questions about the future of the project.  He called the community engagement process for the project exemplary and commented on the passion, commitment and enthusiasm in Windsor-Essex.

LISTEN: Minister Hoskins answers questions at the WRH Ouellette Campus, Dec. 1, 2017

Here are some highlights from the Minister’s comments:

I’m so proud that we’ve reached this point today, where we, as a province, the government, has, absolutely committed to the investment necessary for creating a new hospital that will serve the population of both Windsor and Essex … There are a lot of layers to this announcement. But two things are sure; Windsor-Essex is getting a new hospital and the government has committed to investing in it to make that happen.

Pretty well the moment I became health minister three and a half years ago, I became aware of just how committed the residents and the leadership of Windsor-Essex are to this project, to this new hospital . That commitment, and that passion, and determination makes a big difference, and certainly, the financial commitment that has been made through councils to contribute the local component, that is critically important. It’s also a very clear demonstration of their commitment. For me, it was, never a matter of if, it was a matter of when to be able to reach this announcement today. I was compelled by the evidence in terms of the need for a new hospital and I was certainly compelled by the commitment of the local communities.

So now it’s official. We’ve committed to funding it. We’ve set aside the funding necessary, so it’s in our fiscal plan, is how we refer to it as a government and I also announced today as well that the process has moved one big step forward into Stage 2, which is important.

And I have to say, the community process that has been undertaken throughout this over the years with regards to the new hospital has been exemplary. I don’t know if I’ve seen a stronger community process in the province, quite frankly. So that community engagement needs to continue. The leadership that had been involved at every level on the conversation thus far needs to continue that conversation and discussion when it comes to services for downtown core. So I’m not going to predict, or preempt, or suggest what that might look like because it’s– obviously, these are recommendations and proposals, so they’re best suited by those who are closest and have the expertise to determine what they might be.

You know, Windsor, you need to be proud. I’m sure you are. It’s a very unique part of the province. There’s a passion, and commitment, and enthusiasm that exists here. And I’ve felt it every time I’ve been here, but that was certainly present today. So to see such a large group of people coming out, and diverse group, and to actually, you know, have David and others identify specific individuals who have been involved, some of them a long, long time ago, right? And the beginnings of this, and– but throughout the whole process most of them pure volunteers. I think that, it was really exciting to once again, be part of that, and feel it and sense it. And that’s something that Windsor and Essex should be really proud of, is that. Not only on the science side like having done collectively such a good job at stating the case– making the case for a new hospital and all of the programs and services required. But you’ve done an exemplary job with regards the community engagement process. And then you have a wealth of talent, and expertise, and good will, some of it paid, most of it voluntary, that have just come to this challenge with such vigor. And here we are today, really as a result of you know, I just said a few words at a podium, but all the hard work was done over many years by local citizens that just believe in contributing and in giving back, and providing the best, making, creating the best possible health care for Windsor-Essex.

Typically at the, the Ministry, we look to the LHIN and the local hospital to make decisions with regards to siting of new hospitals. There’s an expectation, however, you know, that there is a strong community process that underpins that recommendation. I’m confident that that process was undertaken here in Windsor. But, the Ministry and the government we’re not in the business of site selection. We really look to local leadership and local experts to make what they believe is the best decision, and to do that through community consultation. But I think it’s also important, what I referred to as well is, you know, there’s still a lot of discussion ongoing, right, in terms of whether that’s looking at maintaining, health services in the downtown core, the mental health services that I spoke to. There’s there are many opportunities in Windsor and in Essex and it’s our job, I think, collectively in all of us, to make sure that we avail ourselves of those.”