Remarks by Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott at the Groundbreaking of Groves Memorial Community Hospital, Aboyne, Township of Centre Wellington
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
It’s great to be here, and great to see all of you, as today we turn the ground to begin the construction of our new Groves Memorial Community Hospital.
And in doing so, we are embarking on nothing less than building the future of primary health care in this community, and an example of innovation, collaboration and partnership that the rest of Ontario could emulate.
My involvement with Groves Memorial Community Hospital began on April 8th, 1963, when our existing building on Union Street was relatively new. If you check Wikipedia, you’ll discover that was my date of birth. I was born at Groves.
A quick Google search would also confirm that we had a Federal Election in Canada on April 8th, 1963.
On the night of my birth, the Progressive Conservatives, under the leadership of John George Diefenbaker, were defeated by the Liberals, who were led by Lester Bowles Pearson.
And upon hearing the news from my mother that the Conservative Government had gone down to defeat…I cried all night long.
I have since recovered…and have learned through the years that some elections will go the way of your Party, and others will not.
But in our democracy, it is the people who decide, and whether you serve in Opposition or on the Government side of the House, the opportunity to serve in elected public office is an enormous privilege. And every working day, you have the opportunity to make a positive difference for your constituents.
Our event this morning is dignified by the presence of the President of the Treasury Board. Thank you Minister for joining us, and on behalf the people of Wellington-Halton Hills, please accept our appreciation for your Government’s support for this project.
My colleagues in elected public service, Mayor Kelly Linton, Warden Dennis Lever, Members of Township and County Council, Randy Pettapiece MPP and their predecessors going back many years, all have been enthusiastic in their support of the Hospital, and deserve our acknowledgment and heartfelt thanks.
We thank Township and County staff, as well as my own staff at our Queen’s Park and Riding offices, for the many hours of work they have contributed.
We also thank the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network for their endorsement, and the staff of Infrastructure Ontario for their professional assistance.
But our most generous expression of appreciation must be reserved for the Groves Memorial Community Hospital staff and volunteers, the Board, the Foundation, our donors, indeed, the entire community, everyone in our catchment area, for your vision, patience and perseverance, all of which have brought us to this day.
What an amazing community undertaking this has been!
I vividly recall Carolyn Skimson coming to see me in 2002 or 2003, telling me the Groves redevelopment project seemed to be stuck at a preliminary stage at Queen’s Park, and asking me to look into it. I said I’d make inquiries.
I started from the premise that as MPP, I would support whatever redevelopment plan the hospital submitted to the Ministry of Health and that the community was behind, and I would look for opportunities to promote it every way I could.
I also resolved early on that I would do whatever I could to ensure that the project would NOT become a political football. Our health care is way too important for that, and I’d seen over and over, hospital redevelopment projects in other communities, going around and around in circles, and never getting done, because they had become too politicized.
That was NOT going to happen here.
And through the intervening 15 years, there were ups and downs, twists and turns, meetings and briefings, lots of speeches, phone calls, emails and letters, private conversations, and even a complete revision of the redevelopment plan to the idea of a new build on a greenfield site.
We set aside partisan differences, we worked across Party lines with no fewer than five Ministers of Health and their respective staffs, and slowly but surely we made progress towards our vision of a new hospital for our growing community.
So here we are today.
And I say to our friends at EllisDon who are here, I spent many summers working on construction projects while I was going to university, and I know how to use a shovel. So, if you need a hand…
At the beginning of my remarks, I mentioned the outstanding spirit of innovation, collaboration and partnership which is the foundation of the quality, compassionate care Groves is known for.
We were committed to “health quality indicators” since Dr. Abraham Groves started his practice in 1871, even though we didn’t call it that.
We were doing “health care integration” before the Government invented the term.
We were “putting patients first” before anybody ever used that expression at Queen’s Park.
There is something very, very special here. All of us know that.
And we know we are truly blessed to have Groves Memorial Community Hospital as the center and heart of our community.
But now, as we begin to build the new Groves, let us resolve to continue to “dig deep,” to support Groves in every way possible.
And together, build the hospital our community has earned!