The provincial budget was brought down on Tuesday, April 24, and on Thursday, April 26, the Coast of Bays Joint Mayors’ Committee met to discuss the implications for the area.
Chairperson Max Taylor, mayor of the town of St. Jacques-Coombs Cove, had attended the budget presentation with MHA Tracey Perry and then called the mayors together in Harbour Breton. The first item on their agenda was the funding announced for dialysis.
All the mayors agreed that the extra $1 million allocated for dialysis funding at the Connaigre Peninsula Health Centre was excellent and would move the service forward. Mr. Taylor, who is a member of the Central Health Dialysis Unit Steering Committee, gave an overview of what the timeline has been over the past year.
“A year ago $1.1 million was announced for the provision of dialysis services in the Coast of Bays,” he said. “Sometime later it was realized that because of the number of dialysis patients from the region and because of the number of pre-renal patients (those being monitored because they are close to needing the service), the $1.1 million was not adequate.”
It was also obvious that there was not adequate space inside the hospital to house the unit. In response the mayors asked that that Mr. Taylor arrange a meeting with the Honorable Susan Sullivan, the Minister of Health, to discuss housing the service in a space outside the hospital. Mr. Taylor subsequently met with the minister, and soon after that Central Health staff, accompanied by Mr. Taylor and Mr. Eric Skinner, the mayor of Harbour Breton, visited the Elliot Premises.
“It was obvious that the Elliott Premises was not going to be deemed suitable, so we needed more dollars to expand the hospital, and the additional $1 million will definitely move the project forward, “ Mr. Taylor commented. “MHA Perry and Minister Sullivan delivered on this project, and at the reception following the budget, I expressed the region’s sincere appreciation to the minister. Now I expect the steering committee to meet immediately on this project, and we, the community leaders from this region through the Joint Mayors Committee have the responsibility of putting the pressure on Central Health and others to move as quickly as possible on this.”
The Joint Mayors Committee has constantly lobbied MHA Tracey and the Honorable Tom Hedderson, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, for upgrading to Route 360, and the mayors were disappointed about the total announced for the province - $60.1 million. Once the formula allocation is applied over the 48 districts, it is easy to see approximately how much will be spent in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.
“The mayors expressed a lot of concern about the small amount of money budgeted for so large a problem,” Mr. Taylor said, the concern in his voice obvious. “The Joint Mayors decided that we would ask our MHA to request a meeting with the minister to discuss the issue and talk about some possible ways that might ensure a larger distance of serious road sections being rectified this year.”
More positive news
The Chairperson stated that they discussed other aspects of the budget which were positive for the area - the seniors’ benefits, the improvements to homecare pay, the continuation of the increase in municipal operating grants to communities with fewer than 3000 people, and the further expansion to marine infrastructure. “These were positive announcements”, Mr. Taylor concluded. “This is the purpose of the Joint Mayors Committee - to show appreciation when positive things are happening and to raise concerns and issues when things need action and to make suggestions about solutions.”
The mayors’ committee will meet again on May 17, and, among other items, regional waste management is on the agenda. Plans have to be put in place to take waste from the Coast of Bays to the new super waste disposal site in Norris Arm.