Breaking, Not Making, Our Hospitals Better

“Improving access and connections in health care is another way we are putting people and patients first. I look forward to the panel’s advice, as we work to provide better access to quality health care for the people of Scarborough and West Durham region.”

Dr. Eric Hoskins  – Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

When it comes to spending tax dollars at any level of government the one comment I hear over 99% of the time being told to politicians is “You better not waste my money….”.

In Scarborough we have two hospital systems: the Scarborough Hospital (General and Birchmount sites) and the Rouge Valley Health System (Centenary and Ajax/Pickering sites).

In 2013, the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CELHIN) initiated the “Facilitated Integration Process” to look at how the two hospital systems could work more closely together.

The end result? The Board of Directors of both hospitals initially proposed a merger which would create the seventh largest hospital corporation in Ontario. The Rouge Valley Health System Board ultimately voted officially to proceed, and to the surprise of many, the Scarborough Hospital Board voted against the merger.

20,000 residents gave their input through a website, telephone townhalls, online surveys, and community roundtables……back to square one everyone went.

Health Minister Deborah Matthew stated “ I still have some hope it will eventually happen.” But she then went on to say her government would not force a merger. “We have seen examples where mergers were forced and decades later they are not working as one organization.”

May, 2015….The Ministry of Health announced an Expert Health Panel to address infrastructure needs as well as improve access and integration of acute health care services in the Scarborough and West Durham region.

The guidelines set for the panel were to a develop a plan to address how hospitals in the region can work together to deliver acute health care programs and services in a way which meets the needs of local residents. It would provide recommendations on program and service integration, as well as infrastructure needs for both the Scarborough Hospital and the Rouge Valley Health System.

The final report and its recommendations can be found here:

The report has a date on the cover “November 2, 2015”….It was released publicly in the middle of December, 2015…..

Bizarrely….amongst the report’s many recommendations is one which breaks up the Rouge Valley Health System, and merges the Centenary site with the two Scarborough Hospital sites.  The Ajax-Pickering site would join the Lakeridge Hospital.

It takes health care which has been advancing on a regional basis BACKWARDS to one which will follow the municipal boundaries of the City of Toronto and Durham Region.

It seems a peculiar recommendation considering Rouge Valley has worked very hard under the Ministry of Health to establish itself as a regional health care provider.  With millions of dollars we achieved an integrated health care system….and probably many millions more of our tax dollars could be spent to take it all apart.

Education….transportation… economic development are but a few examples all being dealt with on a regional basis.  Why treat our health care differently?

In a number of conversations I have had with governing M.P.P.s I have asked about the Expert Panel recommendations.  The general answer is “Health care will be better”.  When I ask about specifics I continue to get “Health care will be better.”

The Expert Panel Report on West Durham and Scarborough conclusions are incorrect and inconsistent with data:

  1. Scarborough and Durham are different communities. The Scarborough border is a functional divide between Durham and Scarborough.

NOT TRUE: The Rouge Valley Community is a functional and integrated health care community that DOES NOT divide on municipal boundaries.

  1. A clear strategic direction is required for acute program and service delivery across both regions.

NOT TRUE: The Regional Cardiac Care program has provided a clear and effective strategy for the effective and efficient delivery of regional services across the Central East LHIN.

  1. Existing governance and management structures do not optimally or comprehensively support integrated service planning and delivery.

NOT TRUE: The Central East LHIN has made very good progress in regionalization, transformation, with integration of multiple services including Cardiac Care, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Oncology, Nephrology and Diabetes.

The Rouge Valley Health System has demonstrated a commitment and exemplary contribution to CELHIN system transformation. Not just in cardiac care but for the system as a whole.

It is not just me who is very skeptical, and has a lot of questions about the basis of the recommendations, the process, and the ultimate goal of the Expert Panel.  Physicians, other hospital staff, local residents, prominent business leaders from Scarborough and Durham have created a “Save Our Hospital” group to make sure concerned voices outside of the political realm get heard… and get the answers we all deserve!!

You can view the website here and also sign a petition of support if you feel as strongly as we do about the importance of our health care system:


Support the advancement of our health care system!


Paul Ainslie