'I hope they have a bed for mom': Town of Whitby launches campaign to pressure province on long-promised hospital

‘I hope they have a bed for mom’: Town of Whitby launches campaign to pressure province on long-promised hospital

The Town of Whitby is launching a public awareness and letter-writing campaign to pressure the province to get moving on a long-promised hospital.

The previous provincial government first recommended a new acute care hospital for Durham Region in 2015.

In 2022, an independent panel identified a 50-acre parcel of land in Whitby, near Highways 412 and 407, as the preferred site for the regional health centre.

“For two years we have been patient, but we simply can’t wait any longer,” Mayor Elizabeth Roy told reporters Wednesday.

Roy is urging the Ford government to commit $3 million to allow planning and design work to begin, as well as commit to the Whitby location.

The town is spreading its message through billboards, ads in doctor’s offices, on social media and in newspapers, and inviting residents to send notes to Premier Doug Ford through its website.

town of whitby poster

By 2051, the town says the population of Durham Region is expected to nearly double to 1.3 million. With a potential hospital build lasting a decade, Roy says the government needs to act now to add capacity to a healthcare system already struggling to keep up.

“(It’s) new families having children. It’s children who get sick. It’s seniors who also are experiencing time and delay where they’re sitting within their emergencies in the hallways before they can even get a bed.”

Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe agrees a Durham hospital is overdue but argues it should be hosted in his city, the only Durham municipality without a hospital.

“We recognize that Whitby was recommended through community consultation as the preferred site of the new Lakeridge Hospital,” Hannah Jensen, spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones, writes in a statement.

“We will continue to work closely with Lakeridge Health and other partners on the next round of planning grants for this project to deliver more connected, convenient care in the Durham Region for years to come.”