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Vaughan’s tortuous path to a hospital
Article Published On Thu Apr 14 2011
John Goddard Staff Reporter Recommend

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The minute Ottawa announced a $10 million gift toward plans for a Vaughan hospital, the sharp questions began. The money would go not to hospital construction, federal officials said last month, but to something called the Vaughan Health Campus of Care. “A lot of people from the Campus of Care worked on your by-election campaign,” a reporter pointed out to Julian Fantino, who became Vaughan’s Conservative MP last fall. “Are you worried how that looks?” “I’ve never worried about cynics,” Fantino replied. But with less than three weeks to go before the next federal vote, two members of Fantino’s riding association quit noisily Wednesday, saying federal money going to a private corporation run by Fantino supporters looks bad. “In the by-election, Mr. Fantino made clear that he would bring funds for a hospital,” Richard Lorello, an association member and 2008 Tory candidate, said Thursday. “He did bring funds, but they ended up going to a private corporation that has no responsibility for the hospital whatsoever,” he said. “The province has given York Central Hospital the mandate to plan and develop Vaughan’s hospital.” Fantino, faced with such criticism, keeps distinctions vague. The money, he said last month, will “serve residents in the community who for a good long time have been advocating for a much more ready access to health care.”
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Toronto News: Vaughan’s tortuous path to a hospital - thestar.com

So what is going on? Planning a hospital can be complex. So far, steps toward building one in Vaughan often appear awkward, overlapping, contradictory and sometimes even suspicious. A chronology of developments might help settle some questions — although it may raise others. January 2003: Vaughan council strikes a task force to study how the growing city can get a hospital of its own. Early 2004: The task force creates the Vaughan Health Care Foundation, a charity, to raise $420 million for hospital construction. To date, it has raised more than $200 million from the City of Vaughan, York Region and through annual fundraising galas and other programs. The rest is to be raised from the community over the next 20 years. Two central players emerge. Sam Ciccolini is named foundation chairman. Michael DeGasperis is appointed to the board of directors. 2008: A foundation study leads to the formation of the Vaughan Health Campus of Care, a nonprofit private corporation assigned “to work through the formal planning and approvals process for a new hospital.” The Health Campus is also to develop other health services on hospital lands. DeGasperis is named Campus of Care chairman. Ciccolini is appointed to the board of directors. May 2009: Vaughan council dedicates $60 million to buying 35 hectares (87 acres) just north of Canada’s Wonderland on Major Mackenzie Blvd. Nearly half the land is for the hospital, the rest for supplementary services. Another $20 million in city money is to go toward “site preparation, site services and hospital construction.” October 2009: Now the complications arise. The Ontario health ministry says that any hospital for Vaughan would be built not by the Campus of Care but under the auspices of the existing York Central Hospital, as part of a two-site regional hospital. The ministry grants York Central nearly $11 million for Stage I planning development. March 2010: York Central expands its board to include DeGasperis, Ciccolini and other Vaughan representatives. The Campus of Care does not disband, instead retaining its role to build secondary services. November 2010: Julian Fantino suggests during his by-election bid that he could help bring a hospital to Vaughan. DeGasperis and Ciccolini serve as Fantino campaign fundraisers. March 2011: Fantino, successfully elected, announces $10 million in federal funds will be given to the Health Campus of Care corporation. This week, Ciccolini rejected any suggestion of political patronage, saying he serves as a volunteer with nothing personally to gain. DeGasperis was unavailable for comment. Two key players Developer Michael DeGasperis is president of Arista Homes, vice-president of the TACC Group of Companies and partner in other land development and construction companies. His interests have expanded to include Copper Creek Golf Club in Vaughan and the Peninsula Lakes Golf Club in Niagara. Sam Ciccolini owns several businesses, including Masters Insurance Ltd., specializing in construction company insurance. He has served in advisory roles at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Humber River Regional Hospital.
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