We’ve known for decades that we need major improvements to our local hospitals, Brantford General and the Willett, to care for our current needs and to take care of our future needs as we continue to grow.
This week, we took a huge step when the Ontario government announced it’s going to invest $2.5 million in developing the plans for the improvements.
As exciting as it is, we have to keep in mind that big infrastructure projects like this cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. They can take years to build.
The fact we’ve come this far is a testament to the incredible amount of work done locally to convince the province that our need is real.
But there’s still a lot of work for the community to do if we want to see the improvements made.
When I got to Queen’s Park in 2018 and started to dig into the issue, I was really dismayed that Brantford-Brant wasn’t even on the list for hospital upgrades.
It became my task to raise the level of awareness about our need with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury Board.
I focused my energies on having those conversations with people and proving the need.
But it’s really been a Team Brantford-Brant effort. The hospital administration, the mayors and council, the chamber of commerce – actually, the whole community has worked really hard to make a convincing case to the province for major enhancements at our hospitals.
But the demands on provincial dollars are always greater than the available money so it became important to ensure that we were high enough on the list to see some progress on this project.
I’m just one voice, though I have had some unique roles, as parliamentary assistant to the premier and then the minister of finance. I was able to have those face-to-face chats with the ministers, the ministry staff and the premier to make the case and advocate for how important this is for our community.
Now we’re at the place where we need to ensure the community is onside and ready to support the project.
A revitalization of BGH and Willett might cost $1 billion. The way the provincial rules work, the community needs to come up with 10 per cent of the cost — $100 million.
So right now, Team Brantford-Brant needs to convince the province that we’re ready to come up with that money. If we can do that, we can move this project closer to completion so we a hospital system that perfectly suits our needs.
This is a big deal, and it is so gratifying to see the entire community step up to make it happen. The result can only be a stronger and healthier community.
It is no longer a question of if we are getting a new hospital, but rather when.