by Luke Edwards
Grimsby Lincoln News
The West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) Foundation chair is calling on the region to provide what he believes is its fair share of local financing.
Kevin Antonides said the $14 million of regional dollars requested to fund a new hospital in Grimsby is a sound investment, and one that will benefit the overall health of the entire Niagara community. At this Thursday’s regional budget review, committee meeting staff will be presenting a policy that will guide future contributions to hospital projects, including Grimsby’s.
“We really feel that the Region has to step up,” he said.
Hospital rebuilds, like the one promised to the West Niagara community, are mostly funded by the provincial government. However, local communities must provide some of the capital, usually around 30 per cent of the entire cost. For WLMH, that will come out to about $60 million.
Of that local share, the towns of Grimsby and Lincoln, as well as the township of West Lincoln have agreed to provide $26 million. The foundation has committed to $20 million, about half of which has already been raised. That leaves a request to the Region to provide a one-time, $14 million payment.
Though Antonides remains hopeful they’ll receive that full amount, or at least a number very close to it, he’s concerned the new proposed policy could shave that regional portion down significantly. In recent discussions Antonides said the number floating around was $12.6 million, which was something they could live with.
“Now it seems it’s going lower and lower,” he said.
The policy uses a scoring matrix to help determine regional funding for hospitals. Lincoln regional councillor Rob Foster previously asked for the Region to develop policy to make hospital funding fair across the board and this matrix is what staff came back with. He said Thursday’s meeting will hopefully see the committee agree to a funding formula, decide how the Region will pay for these requests, and with any luck determine what the WLMH share will be.
He acknowledged $14 million was unlikely, but also said he believes the rest of regional council understands the importance of the Grimsby hospital.
“I’m hoping to get something close,” he said, adding he’ll be making the case alongside other West Niagara politicians.
“It (WLMH) is an important hospital to the (West Niagara) community, but it also supports a healthy Niagara region as a whole,” said Antonides.
Antonides pointed out WLMH is well known for its maternity ward, and many people from elsewhere in Niagara choose to have their babies born in Grimsby.
Any shortfall from what was requested from the Region will have to be made up for with fundraising. The Foundation is set to launch a fundraising campaign, aptly dubbed the ‘Take It to the Finish’ campaign, as the community has already raised millions of dollars for a new hospital that was first promised years ago.
According to a report posted on the region’s website, “the final staff report on both the policy and the recommendation for funding will be provided prior to” the budget review committee meeting.