Ontario's NDP

Ontario's NDP

October 06, 2007 11:10 ET

McGuinty Minister Must Resign: Campaigning Liberals Desperate to Keep a Lid on McGuinty's Ballooning Private Health Scheme

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 6, 2007) - Revelations this morning of new and massive cost overturns from McGuinty's private hospitals schemes are yet another reason why Ontarians won't be eager to give Dalton McGuinty a blank cheque on election day.

Another leaked memo from inside the Ministry of Health directly contradicted health minister George Smitherman's pledge yesterday that $214 million was "a guaranteed price" for the new private Bluewater Health in Sarnia. In less than 24 hours, Smitherman's figure balloned 49 percent and nearly tripled the initial cost estimates. That's nearly $200 million in funds going to private profit instead of seniors denied a minimum standard of care in long-term care homes.

Earlier in the week, NDP leader Howard Hampton called on McGuinty to fire Di Cocco as culture minister saying "Either Minister Di Cocco is incompetent - or she is not being completely open with the working families of Sarnia and the Province of Ontario. Either way she has demonstrated a complete lack of leadership, and I am calling on her to resign her cabinet position," said Hampton. "If she doesn't do the right thing, she should be fired."

As of this morning, McGuinty has yet to respond to Hampton's challenge.

BACKGROUND: How the costs have skyrocketed:

2 March 2004: $115 million - Di Cocco lashes out at the hospital board for asking for more money for the new hospital project: "From $67 million to $115 million, I still don't quite understand how that happened . . . Sometimes questions are asked and you can't get any answers because they feel they don't need to give answers" (Sarnia Observer)

16 December 2005: Up to $140 million - Media report "Some estimates have put the cost of a new hospital building as high as $120 million to $140 million. That's substantially more than in 2003 when the project was pegged at $114 million." (Sarnia Observer)

30 August 2007: - Di Cocco announces the choice of a contractor, but denies knowing the final cost: "The financial details are currently being negotiated, said Di Cocco. The cost of the project has not been determined, but it's believed the total will be higher than the $140 million previously estimated." (Sarnia Observer)

6 September 2007: Di Cocco continues to say she doesn't know the cost: "It would be inappropriate for me to say anything about it. It could derail the whole thing," she said. "Besides, I don't even know the figure . . ." (Sarnia Observer)

8 September 2007: While continuing to deny knowledge of the costs, Di Cocco lashes out at Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley for speculating that it could be $300 million plus $100 million associated with the increased costs of the private financing arrangement. "The numbers that the mayor is touting, I think, are certainly not founded on fact. They're founded on speculation," she said." (Sarnia Observer)

2 October 2007: $276,074,907 - Media report on a secret memo from Health Minister George Smitherman dated 14 August 2007 citing this figure as the total cost of the hospital project. Sarnia Liberal MPP Caroline DiCocco is cc'd on the memo but denies knowledge of it: "Di Cocco said she can't explain how such a crucial letter for her riding was overlooked, but noted she has rarely been to her constituency office during the current election campaign. 'Yes, it is an pretty important thing,' she said. 'Had I seen it I would have certainly noticed it. I don't know if it arrived during election time'." (Sarnia Observer)

3 October 2007: NDP leader Howard Hampton calls on McGuinty to fire Di Cocco as culture minister.

4 October 2007: $214,080,286 - The McGuinty government announces "financial close" on the hospital project and cites the cost at $214,080,286.

5 October 2007: Citing almost a billion in cost overruns, the Ontario Health Coalition calls on McGuinty to halt his private hospital plans (OHC news release).

5 October 2007: Rushing to Di Cocco's defence, Smitherman "acknowledged the total price will exceed the 214 million dollars but denied it would surpass $300 million." (Canadian Press)

6 October 2007: $319 million: Media report on another leaked Ministry of Health document dated August 2007 that shows the price tag for the hospital could reach $319 million. (Sarnia Observer)

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Ontario's NDP
    Richard Overgaard
    (416) 591-8637 ext 268