Windsor's mega-hospital project is moving ahead thanks to billions of dollars for health care in Ontario's budget and appealing the proposed location would be a "waste of time and money," says Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj.
A total of $9 billion in the budget was earmarked for new hospital projects, including one for Windsor.
"Some of the most important work is done in the upcoming stages to make sure we get it right when it comes to planning how the hospitals will operate and what is required to make then not only supportive of today's patient population, but for generations to come," said Musyj, who described the budget as "Christmas in April."
In a news release, officials from area hospitals said including a Windsor hospital in the budget meant "decision makers heard loud and clear that Windsor-Essex supports this once in a lifetime, desperately needed transformation" for healthcare in the area.
Before proposals for the project can be accepted, the hospitals require a signed agreement from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Hospital won't open for 7-10 years
The planning stages will require "10 times" the work and money of the first stage, according to the release, meaning the new hospital probably won't accept its first patient for seven to 10 years.
The process of rezoning for the mega-hospital site near County Road 42 and the 9th Concession is underway and the public will have more opportunities to weigh in on what they want the hospital to look like.
Criticism from community group
While hospital officials are celebrating the budget announcement as affirmation of the mega-hospital's proposed location, community groups including Citizens for An Accountable Mega-Hospital Process (CAMPP) argue the location is still up for debate.
"Ontario Ministry of Health and Policy Advisors assured us in several recent conference calls that the funding for the hospital being announced is not an approval of the proposed site," wrote spokesperson Philippa von Ziegenweidt in a statement.
She added CAMPP was "thrilled" to see Ontario invest in Windsor, but expected the coming stages of the mega-hospital plan will show the "serious shortcomings of the proposed location."
Musyj said he would prefer if people in the area would put their energy towards making a "positive impact" on the project instead of wasting time and money appealing its location.
"We can't make everybody happy," he added."By moving forward we are done with site selection."