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Vaughan Health Care Group Strikes Back at MPP Sorbara

Vaughan Health Care Group Strikes Back at MPP Sorbara

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Published by: 404 System Error on May 04, 2012
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03/05/2012Vaughan health care group strikes back at MPP Sorbara1/3ontariocfa.com/2011/06/30/vaughan-health-care-group-strikes-back-at-mpp-sorbara/
JUN 11
Vaughan MPP Greg Sorbara is calling on the city to take back control of the land it has agreedto hand over to the Vaughan Health Campus of Care.“I don’t want the attention of our community to be diverted away from our determination to geta hospital approved for our community and get the resources needed to build it,” he told TheCitizen in an interview. “At the same time, I don’t think that the city of Vaughan is exercisingsufficient oversight and responsibility for the 47 acres of land that will not be required for hospital use.”The Vaughan Health Campus of Care and the Vaughan Health Care Foundation havecountered Mr. Sorbara’s letter with a strongly worded, five-page letter addressing the issuesraised by Mr. Sorbara and challenging some of his assertions.The letter, which was sent to Mr. Bevilacqua, is signed by Michael DeGasperis and SamCiccolini, who is also chairperson of the Vaughan Health Care Foundation.“We’re obviously very surprised, disappointed and quite disgusted at the tone and the contentof Sorbara’s letter to the mayor,” Mr. DeGasperis said in an interview. “Sorbara’s letter isdamaging. It’s damaging to the VHCC and to establishing additional health services inVaughan to meet the immediate needs of the community. So all we can say is that we hopethat Sorbara will cease to engage in activity that could threaten the public’s confidence in thework of our volunteers and the city to make our health care dreams for the citizens a reality.The organizations allege Mr. Sorbara’s criticisms are politically motivated.“… It is a thinly veiled attempt to shore up his party’s sagging electoral prospects in thisriding. There is no other logical explanation for the language, tenor, tone and content of MPPSorbara’s letter. It suggests controversy where none exists,” the letter from the organization’sstatesIn fact, Mr. DeGasperis said, many of Mr. Sorbara’s statements are way off base.He pointed out city representatives and members of the campus of care group have beenworking together to make some changes to the land deal and restructure the organization.“We’ve been in discussions for the last couple of months with the city to revise thecontribution agreement because we are aware that it has to be revised, the landscape haschanged somewhat,” Mr. DeGasperis said. “We want to engage the city more into thecampus of care initiatives, which includes more representation on the board and moretransparency and accountability.”City staff is preparing a report on the land deal, which is expected to be released in the fall. According to Mr. DeGasperis, many of the projects being planned for the hospital lands donot require Ministry of Health approval to go ahead, rendering Mr. Sorbara’s argument aboutthe ministry moot. As for restructuring the foundation, the board recently decided not to break from the VaughanHealth Campus of Care.“Donations to the VHCF are also alive and well. There is no concern in the philanthropiccommunity whatsoever about VHCF or the VHCC,” the letter states.It points out that in addition to raising funds for the hospital, the foundation also has amandate to raise money for the Vaughan Community Health Centre, Vaughan Seniors CareServices and “all future parts of the Vaughan Health Care Services Group”.Mr. DeGasperis said he met with city representatives this week and is not concerned it willside with Mr. Sorbara.“The campus of care is responsible for the entire development of 87 acres. Within the 87acres, the nucleus is the hospital. But if the hospital doesn’t get the approval to go ahead bythe province then we’re still proceeding,” he said. Mr. Sorbara, a heavyweight in the rulingOntario Liberal government, fired off a letter to Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua Friday with copiessent to several people including members of council, York Central president and CEO Altaf Stationwala, Health Minister Deb Matthews, as well as representatives of Vaughan HealthCampus of Care (VHCC) and Vaughan Health Care Foundation (VHCF), a non-profitorganization established by the city in 2004 to raise money to build a hospital.In the letter, he provides an update on the hospital approval process and outlines hisconcerns about the Vaughan Health Campus of Care (VHCC) as well as the foundation.One of the issues raised by Mr. Sorbara is that the campus of care still has a role in planningwhat will be built on a portion of the 87-acre property at Major Mackenzie Drive and JaneStreet that the city purchased to build a hospital.“Now that the land for the hospital has been assigned to (York Central Hospital), I think thosesurplus lands ought to be under the jurisdiction of the city and not a non-profit organizationwith a closed board,” he said.The city put up $80 million in 2009 to buy and develop land for a health care campuscomprised of a hospital and a range of ancillary health services that could include a long-
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03/05/2012Vaughan health care group strikes back at MPP Sorbara2/3ontariocfa.com/2011/06/30/vaughan-health-care-group-strikes-back-at-mpp-sorbara/
term care facility, laboratories, teaching and training centres, pharmacies, medical retailoperations, a research facility and possibly a medical school.Under an agreement struck at the time, ownership of the property was to be transferred toVaughan Health Campus of Care when the project reached the third stage of the five-stageprovincial approval process.The executive of the campus of care group is made up of Michael DeGasperis, who ischairperson, vice-chairperson Lou Greenbaum, secretary Quinto Annibale and treasurer Robert Bradbury. In addition, well-known local businessman Sam Ciccolini, Mayor MaurizioBevilacqua and West Woodbridge Councillor Tony Carella, among others, act as directors.When the two-year-old land deal was negotiated, Vaughan Health Campus of Care wasspearheading the effort to bring a hospital to the city. A few months later, however, theprovince put York Central Hospital in charge.That led to a collaboration agreement between York Central and the campus of care group.The hospital board was restructured to reflect the new partnership.The city has since agreed to hand over 40 acres of the property to York Central for the futurehospital.Meanwhile, Vaughan Health Campus of Care retained responsibility for planning ancillaryhealth services for the remaining 47 acres.The organization is in the process of putting together a plan for what will be housed on theland. Dubbed the life sciences cluster, the project received a $10-million grant from thefederal government earlier this year, announced with great fanfare by Vaughan ConservativeMP Julian Fantino.“It is simply inconceivable that the VHCC should have care and control of these lands in theabsence of any health-related mandate regarding the hospital,” Mr. Sorbara wrote in his two-page letter. “At a minimum, I believe the city should undertake its own independent planningand economic study to determine the best and most appropriate use for the lands.”Mr. Sorbara said the Health Ministry isn’t interested, at this point, in projects like the onebeing pursued by the campus of care group.“We have a bio-sciences cluster right down across from Queen’s Park called MaRS, Medicaland Related Sciences, and phase two of that has been put on hold because of the lack of demand,” he said. “So, I’m simply saying that health and its resources are not sufficient rightnow to entertain auxiliary ambitions on that land and certainly not until well after the hospitalis built and running and that’s going to be some time yet.”When asked whether Health Minister Deb Matthews shares Mr. Sorbara’s perspective, aspokesperson from her office said those types of projects don’t fall within the ministry’smandate.“We don’t provide capital funding to private health care projects like that, our mandate is towork with the hospitals to develop plans for their proposed capital projects, so we wouldn’thave anything to say specifically on the bio-sciences question,” associate press secretaryParis Meilleur said.Mr. Sorbara also raised concerns about a lack of transparency at the Vaughan HealthCampus of Care.He said so long as the campus of care group is involved with planning health care serviceson land purchased with taxpayers’ dollars, the city should insist on changes to theorganization’s governance model. That includes requiring that the board chairperson be acouncil member and the majority of board members be council members or people selectedby the city.“This is not a criticism of (Vaughan Health Campus of Care), this is a criticism of thestructure,” he said. “I just don’t think that you turn over to a non-profit organization with aclosed board, $40-million worth of land and hope that they do the right thing with it.”Mr. Sorbara’s other concern was the close link between the Vaughan Health Campus of Careand the Vaughan Health Care Foundation.He said people are telling him they will not donate to the foundation so long as it’s connectedto the campus of care.“The current reporting structure is that the Vaughan Health Care Foundation reports to theVaughan Health Campus of Care. I don’t think that relationship is a particularly healthy one,”he said. “The fact is that the best practices in hospital foundation structures is that they not beassociated with any other organization. The foundation has a huge job on its hands. It has tohave a structure and a reporting relationship that ensures that every penny that goes to thefoundation is set aside for the hospital.”Mayor Bevilacqua, in an interview with The Citizen, said council has been aware of some of the issues brought forward by Mr. Sorbara for a while now and has been working towardresolving them.“These were raised in council a number of months ago and people are working to addressthe issue, but let’s keep an eye on the ball. And the eye on the ball is when will the provinceannounce funding so the hospital can be built? I think the residents of Vaughan deserve it,”he said.“I will give it (the letter) the attention it deserves and council will give it the attention itdeserves, and I will await people’s response to this letter as well. And we, collectively as acouncil, will also be responding to Mr. Sorbara’s statement. But I really want the MPP for thearea (Mr. Sorbara) to really focus his energies on getting funding for the hospital, because,quite frankly, people have been very, very patient in waiting for this announcement,” Mr.Bevilacqua added.When pressed about whether he felt the campus of care group should continue to exist andhave control of the lands, Mr. Bevilacqua responded that “the VHCC exists already, it’s notthat they should continue to exist, they exist. They are part-and-parcel of discussions that aretaking place now and everybody needs to accommodate each other so that we can get to theconclusion that we need to get to, and that is a hospital in Vaughan.”VoteView Results
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