County must rethink health care: Warden
Internet towers, natural gas discussed at Chamber breakfast
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 9, 2017|
Calling it “the elephant in the room,” County Warden Brent Devolin discussed the need for changing the way health care is delivered in Haliburton County during a lengthy address at the chamber’s ‘breakfast with the warden’ Tuesday.
In front of members of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce at Rhubarb Restaurant, Devolin spoke for about 25 minutes, also talking about the need for more towers for better Internet connectivity and the possibility of natural gas coming to the area.
Near the end of his speech, he touched on health care, saying, “The status quo of what we have today is not sustainable. We are going to have to make some changes in how we deliver health care in our county.”
Armed with EMS stats from 2013 to 2016, Devolin said there had been a 19.5 per cent increase in calls for service, largely related to our aging demographic, and that rate of growth is going to continue.
“We need to do something about it.”
He said the county had been blessed with “great physical assets,” such as its two hospitals in Haliburton and Minden, as well as staff and people donating to the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation (HHHSF), “but we are going to have to have a discussion about it and every player is going to have to be involved, doctors, nurses, the HHHS (the Haliburton Highlands Health Services), the HHHSF, the county, the generous givers we have.
“What our fear is, is that there are exceedingly larger and larger pressures on health care in Ontario and there will be a solution imposed on the county by the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) and I don’t think that serves us very well.”
He said stakeholders need to find a made- in-Haliburton-County-solution and present that to the LHIN.
“Does it mean we’re not going to do some things exactly the way we do now? You bet.”
However, the Minden Hills reeve said it was about “going a long way to getting long-term health care.” He added, “I’d like to less and less have to travel out of the county to get (health care).”
Devolin discussed the importance of being a member of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) and Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN). He mentionned their joint $300 million application to government for better wireless connectivity in the whole of the Eastern region. Devolin said it might take five years but should connect 90 to 95 per cent of people in the county.
“I can tell you Haliburton County will be the biggest beneficiary of this,” he said.
However, he cautioned it means more towers.
“We’re going to have more towers. Basically for connectivity, for digital to happen, it’s going to require towers in Ontario, and it’s going to require significant amounts of them in Haliburton County. Obviously we’ll be sensitive to planning and visibility. But it’s the only way to connectivty within Haliburton County. So the choice is we either get on the bus for connectivity or we don’t,” he said to applause.
As for natural gas, he said if you’d asked him about the likelihood a couple of years ago, he would have dismissed it. But now the province has indicated support and suppliers such as Enbridge are talking about the prospect.
“I would say there is a possibility that within the next five years we may have a natural gas pipeline in Haliburton County. I’m significantly optimistic.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.