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Community should be consulted on how best to support our local hospitals, says Mayor Rosen

This Article is By: Harvey Rosen Campaign    On  Oct. - 31, 2006

Harvey Rosen Campaign

Media release

October 31, 2006

Community should be consulted on how best to support our local hospitals, says Mayor Rosen

Mayor Harvey Rosen said today that City Council has a role to play in supporting our local hospitals in providing Kingstonians with a level of health care residents need and deserve.

“ Our hospitals and our community are facing a huge challenge in keeping up with health care needs and I believe Council has a responsibility to do what it can both financially and otherwise to help,” said Mayor Rosen following an all candidates debate at the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce where the issue was raised.

“ This is an important issue the new Council will face at some point in its four-year mandate and if re-elected Mayor I would be pleased to take a leadership position in ensuring we consult taxpayers on what the municipality’s role should be.

“As a municipality we have very limited sources of funds. We rely almost entirely on property taxes to fund local services and programs. However, access to health care is an issue that is vital to each and every member of our community and deserves to be debated by Council with input from the community before any decisions are made.

“ I was shocked that mayoralty candidate Rick Downes said during the debate today that he would give no consideration to the use of local tax dollars to assist the hospitals.

“ I believe it is wrong to make major decisions of this kind without consulting the public and before Council has even had a chance to hear representations from both the public and health care spokespeople.

“ Safeguarding and enhancing the quality of life for all members of our community is a major responsibility of Council and access to health care here in Kingston is certainly a major component of that. We currently enjoy health care facilities unavailable in many other centres and safeguarding this is important to both current residents and those seeking a place to live, work, invest, and raise a family. ------2

“Another issue to keep in mind is that our local hospitals are one of our largest employers with a payroll exceeding 6,000,” said the Mayor. “Surely they are among the groups whose opinions should be heard.”

“While the senior levels of government are responsible for funding health care, I believe that as a City Council we most explore all options open to us on how we can help.

“ If re-elected I would join efforts to pressure the province for more funds, offer my help as Mayor in community fundraising efforts and ensure a thorough public consultation process takes place so that members of Council are well informed when it comes time to vote on what financial commitment we should make as a City. “

Mayor Rosen said it is premature to take a position because it is his understanding that the local hospitals have not yet finalized their expansion plans and have not set a budget or a target for community fundraising.

It is known, however, that the province has committed to funding a multi million dollar expansion of Kingston healthcare facilities and insists that 10 per cent of the construction costs be covered by community donations. Kingston is just one of several municipalities in the region expected to be asked for help.

The expansion will increase the types and level of services at the Cancer Centre, Kingston General, Hotel Dieu and Providence Continuing Care Centre and will help retain and attract top specialists in the health care field.

“As a municipal government, we should consider all options---from in-kind contributions (such as infrastructure required to service the expansion) to financial assistance and a leadership role in the community fund raising effort,” the Mayor said.