Reader letter: New hospital, improved health-care system will provide vital economic boost

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Windsor Star Editorial

 

If COVID-19 has illustrated anything, it’s that public health and economic health go hand-in-hand.

With the proposed Windsor-Essex Hospitals System, we get both.

In August, Premier Doug Ford visited our community as we finally left Stage Two of Ontario’s reopening plan. Facing a sea of journalists, he ranked local hospital construction as his “number one priority” and vowed to fight for it like an “800-pound gorilla.”

Meanwhile, the most recent Infrastructure Ontario Market Outlook report illustrates the project start date is still more than five years away. This status hasn’t changed for several years.

But it should.

The proposed revitalization of our hospitals will help address a litany of issues facing our economy and health care system. A recent independent economic impact assessment study from KPMG illustrates this point.

The proposed development of our hospital system would generate more than 12,800 new full-time jobs — 11,673 of which would be right here in Ontario.

The project would contribute $1.73 billion to Canada’s GDP with more than $1.57 billion accrued in Ontario alone.

More and more, as our community grows and expands, we hear from prospective employers how the lack of quality hospital infrastructure holds our region back.

The construction of a new hospital we believe will encourage investments in allied services and infrastructure with companies relocating their operations nearby the new hospital site.

It will create a modern health-science complex that will be a new southwestern hub for health care and related medical services. The hospital will attract new businesses such as clinics, diagnostic centres, laboratories, research and development centres, restaurants, hotels/motels, etc.

Building up our regional health care infrastructure will also be a shot in the arm for the local construction sector and building trades.

KPMG notes that Windsor-Essex is home to numerous construction, machinery and engineering firms that are “well positioned to capture the economic benefits” of construction.

In the longer term, their research notes the new hospital system will be an important anchor that will unlock new commercial, employment and residential lands in the region.

The impact of adjacent investments wasn’t even contemplated in the economic analysis – so the regional boost will certainly be much higher than projected by this study.

Put simply, moving forward on the proposed new hospital is a common-sense next step to bring our health care system into the 21st century and mount an economic comeback for Windsor and Essex County.

Rakesh Naidu is the President & CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jim Lyons is the Executive Director of the Windsor Construction Association.