Make up your minds [Thunder Bay generating station] – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (September 25, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

WITH the fate of the Thunder Bay Generating Station occupying so much public and political attention these days, the ongoing crisis situation at the Regional hospital is unfortunately being shunted aside on the political agenda. The issue of hospital crowding is much worse because it is potentially life-threatening whereas a decision on the generating plant, though needed now, can take time to carry out.

Both crises demonstrate government indecisiveness on multiple pressing issues.

Queen’s Park twice reversed itself on converting the Mission Island generating station from coal to gas and currently has the matter on hold again while it awaits an analysis by the Ontario Power Authority on how best to serve the electricity needs of the Northwest. The region will need significantly more power when a pending mining boom occurs and it takes time to build transmission capacity.

Here, too, the province is dawdling on the central theme of how to get ore out of the Far North to processing plants. A legal tussle over whether it should be a road or a railroad needs provincial intervention on behalf of the entire region which stands to receive a major economic jolt once mining begins. Instead, the province is waiting and seeing while the lead company warns it is running out of time.

Thunder Bay’s new Health Sciences Centre, built — against provincial wishes — to serve not just the city but the region around it, was finally authorized too small to begin with. This has resulted in a growing incidence of Code Gridlock when there are no beds left for incoming patients. This situation is lately reaching alarming proportions more often.

The main reason for this is yet another case of provincial lollygagging — refusal to act quickly to replace seniors’ homes with a new seniors care facility, not scheduled to open until next year. Meanwhile, patients who belong in that type of care are taking up acute care beds in the Regional hospital which in turn strains the Emergency department, already among Ontario’s busiest.

A volunteer city group first proposed the old but still used Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital be used as a transition house for these patients but was rebuffed. It now suggest using Dawson Court when its senior residents move to the new Seniors Centre of Excellence.

Sounds like a good idea, and a real money saver. But on this and the other questions, there is mostly silence from the province.