By Mike Williscraft
While no specific dollar amounts for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s rebuild announced in today’s provincial budget, Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff said the budget is still great news.
“It’s fantastic news that the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital was included twice in the budget. That is a huge step forward,” said Oosterhoff from Queen’s Park, right after the speech was concluded.
During his presentation, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli did not mention WLMH specifically, but the facility is mentioned at two points in the printed edition.
“Ontario’s Government for the People is supporting infrastructure investments that will ensure patients and their families have access to health care they need. This is why the Province is supporting early planning for the redevelopment of the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in West Niagara,” reads the budget.
It also states that support will be “planning funding for construction of a replacement hospital on the same site”.
The government has previously committed $500,000 to Hamilton Health Sciences to facilitate the reworking of design documents which had already been submitted to the Ministry of Health. This work has already started.
This rework was necessitated when a scaled-back version of the initial $280 million projected model was requested. In early February, the HHS received a document from the Ministry of Health outlining a $150 million build.
For now, though, Oosterhoff is ecstatic.
“This is a very good thing. We need to get estimates, cost estimates and scope of the project back to move further in the process. This is standard at this point,” said Oosterhoff, adding Premier Doug Ford is still fully behind the project.
“I spoke with him to day and told him I appreciated it being mentioned twice. He said ‘we’re going to get that hospital built for you, buddy’. That was exactly what he said.”
While Oosterhoff could not commit to any timeline, he was confident the build funding would not take another year to arrive.
“There is an existing capital budget that is already with the Ministry of Infrastructure and I know they are already looking at it now,” said Oosterhoff.,
“I don’t believe it will have to wait a full year. I cannot speak of the Ministry of Health, but it know they are looking to move on it quickly.”