VIDEO: Premier's Office Clarifies Voicemail on Mega Hospital Location

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A voicemail made by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on the proposed location of Windsor's new acute care hospital is being clarified by his office.

Dee Sweet, one of the vocal opponents of the proposed acute care facility at County Rd. 42 and the 9th Concession, released an audio recording of a voicemail left by the premier on June 1.

On the recording, Ford admits hers was not the only message he received about the hospital location.

"Thanks so much for your message, and I hear you loud and clear," said Ford. "I've heard from a few people from Windsor and you're right the community seems to be split on this."

Ford went on to say he was not sold on the location. 

"The one thing that I don't understand Debbie is they put the new site way, way, away from everyone," said Ford. "I don't know, it's just my opinion, I could be wrong, it just doesn't make sense."

The premier also promised to talk to the minister of health about the $2 billion dollar hospital.

Ford deferred any definitive statement to the minister responsible for the decision.

"I want to thank you and talk to the Minister of Health about this, about the hospital.  And see which way we're going on this," he said.

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Windsor resident Dee Sweet on July 8, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

But the press secretary for the premier says he now respects the decision made at the local level because of the extensive public consultations.

Ivana Yelich tells CTV Windsor Doug Ford did not have all of the facts at the time of the message, something he has now after meeting with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. 

Both the premier's office and the mayor say they will meet again within the next couple of months and the hospital will be one of the items on the agenda. 

"I think he understands the importance of the project to our region," says Dilkens in an interview with CTV Windsor. "If you look at the condition of those hospitals, I mean the folks who operate those hospitals are doing the best that they can, the staff are doing a great job but the facilities are just old."

 

Dilkens said he had a brief conversation with the premier when Ford visited Belle River on July 23 for an event for the Essex Progressive Conservative Riding Association. 

Windsor and Essex County mayors have come together in support of the location, and have stated that fact in a letter sent to the Progressive Conservative government.

The group CAMPP - the Citizens for an Accountable Mega Hospital Planning Process -- is appealing the city's zoning for the hospital. 

CAMPP has argued against the location for the new hospital as a spot that would encourage urban sprawl and is advocating for the new hospital to be located closer to the core.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will host an oral hearing about the appeal beginning October 8.

Sweet is the same Windsor resident who filed an integrity complaint against the mayor, suggesting he acted unfairly during a news conference on May 17 when he suggested different BIA's had contravened the Municipal Act with their support for CAMPP.

Integrity Commissioner Bruce Elman has rejected her complaints, stating that the mayor was acting in his official capacity and not seeking personal gain.

 

-- With files from Patty Handysides, Peter Langille, Teresinha Medeiros and Manny Paiva