Ford can’t be blamed for Brampton’s worse health care condition
By: Surjit Singh Flora
Two years after Patrick Brown took on the top job in Brampton, he finally faced off with Ontario Premier Doug Ford last Friday.
Ford and Brown, whose political fortunes are inextricably linked, held their first meeting Friday on neutral territory at a police station in Mississauga, as Ford announced $20.5 million to fight gun and gang violence in Peel Region.
Ever since Brown became Mayor of Brampton, he has never been given a chance by Premier Doug Ford to meet him. However, they have met with Mayors and political leaders throughout the province one on one.
On Jan. 24, the day finally came when both of them, seemingly listening to the will of taxpayers and putting aside any apparent bad blood, united to announce their support for major funding to help the region tackle violent crime.
“Gun and gang violence is a GTA-wide problem,” said Brown, flanked by Ford, Peel Regional Chair Nando Iannicca, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah at the packed press conference. “We can never underestimate the sophistication of criminal organizations who know full well which regions have more diminished response capabilities.
I am grateful that Premier Ford and Solicitor General (Sylvia) Jones have heard our call for guns and gang funding. This is an important tool that our police require to keep Brampton and Peel Region safe.”
The $20.5 million in funding announced by the province Friday will support a number of initiatives, including a plan to open a community police station in the downtown core, greater collaboration with faith-based organizations to help residents during city-wide emergencies and additional CCTV cameras on busy transitways, including Highways 403 and 410.
The funding also came just two days after Brampton City Council unanimously announced the city was facing a “healthcare emergency and approving a motion to compel the province for additional funding. Brown said last Wednesday that the city has 600 hospital beds and needs 800 more to put a dent in overcapacity waiting areas and ‘hallway care.’
In a presentation last week, representatives from Concerned Ontario Doctors stated that the city had the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in the province, at 0.9 beds per resident compared to the provincial average of 2.3 beds. Brampton also receives the lowest per capita funding in the province, at $937 per resident – the second-lowest in Canada. The provincial average is approximately $2,000 per resident.
The resolution to Brampton’s healthcare problem appears to be a political stalemate. While the capacity of Brampton Civic Hospital may be 600 beds, it does not have 600 beds for service, nor are enough doctors and staff available to serve 600 beds. When Brampton Civic Hospital first opened, the previous Liberal government had promised that the old Peel Memorial Hospital, which was in need of upgrades and renovations, would not be closed. That promise was broken.
When the motion to close Peel Memorial was opposed, it was said that it would be renovated and reopened. That promise was also broken, and a plan to build an ambulatory centre instead of a hospital was presented instead. At the same time, the province demanded $60 million for this ‘ambulatory center’ from the city. On the occasion, Brampton council imposed a surcharge on property tax and paid the amount. The ‘ambulatory centre’ was renamed Peel Memorial Centre, which cost $451 million – but does not have a single night care unit. With $451 million, a whole new hospital could be built in the city.
Ontario had a Liberal government for almost 15 years, and during this time, Brampton’s population has grown steadily. The Liberal government seemingly ignored Brampton’s needs, which has worsened the situation and has now become uncontrollable.
Some say that Brampton’s condition has worsened due to inadequate blood between Mayor Patrick Brown and Premier Ford. There is no truth in this matter.
The Ford government was formed after the Liberal government ruled for 15 years, cultivating strong relations with Mayors in Brampton and beyond. Mayor Linda Jeffrey was a former Liberal MPP and Minister for several years before becoming Mayor. While Linda was Mayor, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government was formed in Ottawa, and all five MPs in the city became Liberals. Has it improved health services in Brampton?
Ford has also been accused of canceling an allegedly accredited university in Brampton. The truth is that Wynne’s Liberal government announced a ‘decision’ to build universities in Brampton, Milton, and Markham for the benefit of its vote bank long before the provincial elections,but did not provide enough funding for any city.
When the Ford government formed, the province’s financial condition became so weak because Liberals left a situation that the government could not manage funds for, including the construction of universities in these three cities. This was the real reason why the Liberals’ plans were canceled.
Brampton’s population is steadily increasing, and the burden on health care is rising. The issue is not just the long lines at the same hospital, but the situation is worsening due to the increase in population. There are also lines to see family doctors, at walk-in clinics and specialist doctors. Basements are filled, residential roads have become parking lots, schools are full.
Other cities in Canada also have ‘Health Emergency’ conditions due to a large number of immigrants. Crime is on the rise due to a lack of police in the population. The abundance of ‘raw labor’ in Brampton has resulted in at least $7- $8 an hour’s pay, potential tax evasion and worsening financial conditions for labourers.
Today’s need is to control the population and ask for funding from the Justin Trudeau government, which is responsible for this.
With the Premier and Mayor meeting, it looks like Brampton’s days will change, with better days to come. At this meeting, Ford pledged support for a new Brampton hospital after the “healthcare emergency” announcement last week.
Brown welcomed the announcement, saying that while the Premier indicated that no such work would happen overnight, it would take time to improve. The Premier also said that he is not unaware of Brampton’s problems. He will do everything possible to make Brampton more accessible to all.
After this announcement, Brampton Council and the public have to keep the pressure on Queens Park, the Premier and our local MPPs, to not make the same mistakes as the previous government.
There is one thing that we can be sure of. Ford said, at the time of taking office, “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” That’s what he’s been doing from day one – keeping and delivering his promises.
Now it’s time to see how fast he will keep and fulfill his government’s commitment to the City of Brampton. It may just have the benefit of clearing many residents’ minds about the bad blood between Ford and Brown.