BY SURJIT SINGH FLORA
Two long-term care centers, a medical university campus and a second hospital for Brampton. I hope the same prank with Bramptonians played in the Wynne era isn’t repeated again. The province confirmed last week Brampton will be getting its long-awaited second hospital in the form of an expansion to Peel Memorial Hospital.
Provincial Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy announced the hospital upgrade in government funding plans as part of his sweeping 2021 budget package. “I can’t tell you how happy I am today that we finally got this provincial commitment,’ said Mayor Patrick Brown last week, noting that the new addition will have an emergency department. “This push for a second hospital has been 15 years in the making, and it is overdue.
We’re finally going to see a second hospital for Brampton with Phase 2 of Peel Memorial.” On Mar. 26, Premier Ford and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott were on-site at Peel Memorial to announce $18 million in support for William Osler Health System. The second phase of development for Peel Memorial involves constructing a new inpatient building and the expansion of the Urgent Care Centre to 24/7 operations, paving the way for an eventual emergency department. 250 new beds will also be funded at the site.
This statement is important because the Ontario government, despite Patrick Brown being Mayor of Brampton, has made a good start in announcing new projects for the city in this year’s budget. The good news is that even when Linda Jeffrey was Minister of Municipal Affairs, she won from Brampton and represented the Ontario Parliament. Despite Jeffrey becoming the mayor of Brampton and having a strong Liberal government in the province, this humble city’s demands were met with nothing but talk.
As the provincial election is coming up next year, I’m still wondering if all these projects were announced just to get the votes. As far as the Ontario budget as a whole is concerned, with a historical deficit of $33.1 billion, the government has made it a clear priority to provide relief to families and work hand-in-hand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics point out that the budget does not pay much attention to long-term outcomes.
The question is, if the government had not set aside $171 billion out of the total $186 billion in the budget for COVID-19 alone, critics would still be upset. The argument is that a government that is preoccupied with tomorrow’s concerns does not care about Ontario’s people today. It should not be forgotten that the $33.1 billion budget deficit created by COVID will not be met before 2029. This is the estimate of the Progressive Conservative government.
But if the Liberal or NDP government comes in the meantime, then the “God of deficit” in the budget will be their protector. The $1 billion budget deficit cannot be met before 2029. When it comes to budgeting for Brampton, it is no less than a miracle that the government will give Brampton important projects such as a hospital, a medical school (university) and two long-term care homes, even in these difficult financial times. This is not the time to repeat the Peel Memorial Hospital’s history (old Peel), which has seen many promises made — and left unkept.
From the criminal process of demolishing a good old building of Peel Memorial to building a costly walk-in structure and tricks to bring Brampton Civic into disrepair, the record is long and still noted. The announcement to establish a medical university under the leadership of Ryerson University in Brampton is also significant. The emergence of a medical university in Ontario is a rare occurrence, and it is fortunate to have chosen Brampton for a significant medical school project this year.
I have to agree with Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca, who, contrary to the NDP’s reluctant response, is optimistic that we need to be happy with the facilities announced for Brampton. No government’s approach to the community’s problems is 100 per cent accurate, but setting up a negative narrative in the community on everything the NDP does is often detrimental rather than helpful.
Impartial thinking shows that being happy in your city is the basis of happy people, and there are many happy things for Brampton in this budget, without hesitation. But many people are gossiping that Ford is banking on the plan to get local votes in 2022 and made no bones about the over-thetop move, as if Brampton taxpayers don’t deserve proper healthcare without any strings attached. Before the provincial election, the former Liberal government, led by Kathleen Wynne, announced in the spring of 2018 that it was committing $90 million for a Ryerson satellite campus near the Brampton GO station.
However, that funding was cut later the same year, after Doug Ford’s Conservative party took office. The worse scenario is that until today, Bramptonians are paying a 2 per cent levy applied by Linda Jeffery under the blanket of a Ryerson satellite campus no one was even aware of. Hopefully, the same won’t be pulled on Bramptonians again.