CFFB Opinion – A “confusing” Sister City Agreement with Vavuniya , Sri Lanka.

It looks like Professionalism, Accountability and Transparency might have been good New Year’s resolutions that should have been made by our Mayor and her staff for 2017.

In the attached Media Release issued by Mayor Jeffrey and Councillor Medeiros dated December 20, 2016, (since removed from the city’s website), the Mayor officially extended an official invitation to His Excellency C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister, Northern Province, Sri Lanka, to visit Brampton to sign a “Sister City” agreement with Vavuniya, a city in Sri Lanka with approximately 70,000 residents. She did so without an approval by Council. Now, given the backlash, she has had to backtrack, resulting in considerable embarrassment to herself and the City.

Why does the City not have an established policy on not only what qualifications would be necessary to consider a potential Sister City relationship, but what are the economic and social benefits that would result from that relationship? To date, sister/friendship agreements from the past have yet to show any measurable economic benefits to our city. Why spend staff’s and Council’s time on such wasteful initiatives?

This matter surely does not rank very high on the list of important matters to spend precious time and energy on, given the significant outstanding issues to which the Mayor should be turning her attention.

Link to December 7th, 2016 Economic Development meeting minutes: 

http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/meetings-agendas/Economic%20Development%20Committee/20161207edmn.pdf

Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar

Co-Chairs CFBB

January 11, 2017

Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 3.33.59 PM

CFBB Opinion-  $6 million Funding Announcement for Brampton Civic Hospital.

William Osler Health System Press release:

December 2, 2016  at 1:00pm

We’re pleased to announce that we received an extra $6 million to support the opening of all 608 funded beds at Brampton Civic. This means we can improve access to care and reduce the length of hospital stays for those we serve.

Just over a week ago,  Brampton Springdale MPP Harinder Malhi joined Mayor Jeffrey and other distinguished guests to accept a funding pledge of $6 million dollars to William Osler Health System.  The funds would be to support the opening of all 608 beds at Brampton Civic Hospital.

To most this announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm.  I however felt a great sense of relief, followed shortly by anger. Anger that it took several years to get this last stage of funding!  Funding for beds that were promised over 9 years ago! To make matters worse, this is a hospital that not only had the busiest ER in the Province, more recently had become the busiest in the country!  In a city that has seen explosive growth surpassing 600,000 residents, making it the 9th largest in Canada!

Why did it take several years to obtain this last $6 million dollars of funding?  Why weren’t alarm bells ringing at Queen’s Park?  Over the summer both the leader of the PC party Patrick Brown and NDP leader Andrea Horvath addressed the overcrowding at Brampton Civic Hospital in the Provincial Legislature.  Overcrowding that had patients strewn in hallways on stretchers, waiting for beds that were not available.  It was impacting the quality of healthcare in our city and putting an unnecessary strain onto the front line staff.  The lack of bed space prolonged  ER wait times and frustrated patients and their families. All it took was an additional $6 million dollars to finally complete our hospital almost a decade after opening its doors.

With what seems like weekly funding announcements emanating from Queen’s Park, the countess scandals that have wasted billions of tax dollars and a civil service  “Sunshine List” that’s out of control,  it’s SHAMFEFUL that Brampton residents have had to wait this long!  Only $6 million to finally open all 608 beds!  Where were our Brampton MPP’s  to openly and aggressively lobby for this urgently needed funding?

I believe it’s time to call out this Provincial government on its poor planning for Brampton’s healthcare needs.  It’s time to say that it’s unacceptable to play politics with our healthcare!  It’s time to get what this city urgently needs and deserves, a second full service hospital.

We urge all Brampton MPP’s and Mayor Jeffrey to demand that Peel Memorial Phase 2 planning begin immediately.  Planning that includes a second ER for Brampton and 200+ in-patient beds. We simply can’t wait another decade for additional healthcare services.

We are the only Top 10 City in Canada with one emergency room and one full service hospital.   A Top 10 Canadian city with less than 1.0 bed per 100,000 residents,  whereas the national average is more than double that at 2.3 beds per 100,000 residents.  Earlier studies had shown that Brampton would need 930 beds back in 2008,  yet we will only have 608 beds fully open in early 2017.

I acknowledge that the opening of Peel Memorial Phase 1 and its Urgent Care Centre will help relieve some of the pressure from Brampton Civic in the short term. However, planning for only one ER Department for our fast growing city , simply put , is inconceivable and irresponsible.

Chris Bejnar

Co-Chair CFBB

Budget Surprises

 

Annual Municipal budget presentations and discussions open for public input are an essential part of operating any municipality. Details of projected revenue and expenditure estimates are laid out for the coming year, and include both operating and capital needs. After debate, agreement and approval is reached and the tax rate implication is communicated to the taxpayer.

For the process to work well, with as little upset as possible, it is a fundamental requirement that there is full disclosure of back up details of and the reasoning behind recommendations and initiatives for expenditures made to Council and the public by staff. Any lack of transparency which results in questioning intent or uncovers surprises which cause suspicion are ominous signs. And trust is often the victim.

CFBB has already delegated on some important concerns dealing with the Mayor’s staff complement and its cost to the taxpayer. As well, we have made an impassioned plea for the Council to address the need to have those property owners with secondary units pay additionally to defray the cost of fire protection, waste excess, and schooling overload.

In the paper this week, we have been alarmed to learn that some significant projected budget “asks” were somehow not made public by staff. Particularly egregious were the recommendations to provide an in-house $200,000 fitness centre for employees, $116,000 for artwork and three big screen televisions in the employee lunch room, over $1,250,000 for 5th and 6th floor renovations to improve office relationships amongst Councillors, and $100,000 to develop and install new “way-finding” signage in City buildings.

Did anyone at City Hall consider the optics of these requests? At a time when the City is facing a massive infrastructural shortfall which will require a special levy on the taxpayer, and a major severance exposure to meet the impact of the “house cleaning of staff” two months ago, CFBB believes that the above requests show a lack of sensitivity to the aggrieved taxpayer, already carrying the weight of the hospital levy assigned for equipment needs at the new Peel Memorial Health and Wellness centre.

To put it in perspective, staff, for instance, need to compare their work environment and their guaranteed benefit package with the private employee, their benefits and lack of employment security where uncertainty reigns supreme these days.

It is our hope at CFBB that those who have proposed these expenditures take a detailed look at these initiative requests, and determine whether they can be justified at all in this year’s upcoming budget. And as a caution, the taxpayer and CFBB do not react well to any lack of transparency from the administration, on new unjustified expenditures, on unfulfilled contracts, on sloppy oversight, and on exposures to legal matters that may have significant impact on the citizen and the City. Collectively, we will not be taken for granted.

We are pleased to see our Mayor asserting her leadership role in support of the taxpayer and voting against some of the same requests that CFBB found to be unacceptable and optically deficient.

Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar CFBB co-chairs 

OPINION – After almost a decade since opening, Brampton Civic Hospital to receive funding to open all 608 beds!

 More good news for Brampton!

 CFBB is relieved by this week’s funding announcement that will finally allow all promised 608 in-patient beds at Brampton Civic to be operational.  This has been a long and arduous 9 years since the hospital opened its doors back in the fall of 2007. The shortage of beds contributed greatly to long ER wait times and overcrowding at the hospital.  Together with the opening of the new Peel Memorial Centre and its Urgent Care Clinic, will help take pressure away from what has become the busiest ER in the country.  This is indeed great news for our city.

This announcement will help provide a higher quality of healthcare for Brampton citizens; however CFBB feels the job is not yet done. Brampton’s population of 610,000 residents still requires further investment and better healthcare for our citizens. We understand that the Peel Memorial site is still in transition and that there is a plan in place for additional services.

It is important for the Provincial government to immediately outline its plan with accurate time lines and details for these increased services.

CFBB will be monitoring the progress and feel that it’s important for the public to be involved with the planning and input of what additional services there should be. CFBB is particularly interested in the Peel Memorial – Phase 2 plan and are calling for a second ER department and a minimum of 200-250 additional beds. There should be an ambitious goal set to have this completed within the next 5 years.

Furthermore, CFBB is thankful to our Mayor, MPP’s past and present and community leaders who have championed our cause to not only have Brampton Civic Hospital built but also have a redeveloped Peel Memorial healthcare site.      

Facts to keep in mind for the urgent need to begin Phase 2- Peel Memorial Centre:

 ·         Brampton has been one of the fastest growing municipalities, adding almost 20,000 new residents each year.   

·         Brampton’s current population of 610,000 is rapidly growing and will reach almost 900,000 residents in the next 25 years.

·         Even with all 608 beds fully open, we will still be at less than half the national average of 2.3 beds per 100,000 residents, a standard OECD measure for healthcare quality.

·         Similar sized cities in Canada have 2 or even 3 ER departments. It is inconceivable for Brampton with its growing population to just have one ER.

·         Mississauga’s Trillium Health Partners last year received funding from the Region of Peel to pursue a business case for adding a “projected” 955 additional beds to their existing complement of 751 beds over the next 20 years.

·         Population projections for both Mississauga (925,000) and Brampton (890,000) are similar.

We welcome this week’s funding announcement and look forward to seeing the new Peel Memorial Centre open its doors to patients in early 2017. CFBB looks forward to the facilities transition and evolution into the full service health care facility that Brampton citizens can be proud of.  We are calling on Willian Osler, Central West LHIN, all Brampton MPP’s, our Council and Mayor to aggressively lobby the Provincial government to begin the planning process for Peel Memorial Phase 2 immediately.  There is an urgent need for Phase 2 to include plans for a second ER department and a minimum of 200-250 additional beds to be completed within the next 5 years.  

 This is what’s required just to keep pace with our rapidly growing and dynamic city. 

 Chris Bejnar

Co-Chair-CFBB