Mayor looking for assurances to keep motion of non-confidence off the table


Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison said he is looking for assurances from the hospital board and administration in order to remove a pending motion—presented last month—from the council table.

That motion, if passed, would tell the Province that Huntsville Council has lost confidence in the board and hospital CEO, while calling for the removal of both.

The issue will be discussed at Huntsville Council’s April 23 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Algonquin Theatre. The mayor said the venue was chosen because it is hoped and anticipated that a significant number of people will attend.

“We’re going to talk health care, I think the folks from Muskoka Alqonquin Health Care (MAHC) are going to come out and talk to us as well, so we want to hear from people about the hospital, what’s important to them and I think we’ll probably hear a number of things from people about what we should expect from the board of our hospital and what it might take for us not to pass that resolution,” he said.

Aitchison said while planning for the future is important, he is also concerned about what happens to the hospital now. He said he is worried about a funding formula that is patently unfair to medium-sized hospitals and wants assurances from the hospital administration and board that they will fight alongside municipal representatives to lobby the Province to change its unfair funding methodology. He also wants assurances, again from the hospital board and administrators, that no single-siting of acute care services will take place.

“What I’m worried about is today the CEO or the board saying ‘you know what, we just can’t keep going this way. The Province isn’t giving us enough money so we better shut down the OR [operating room]in Huntsville or Bracebridge, and to me that is the beginning of the end… it’s basically single-siting by stealth,” he warned. “I want to be sure that we’re actually working with the Province and fighting the Province together to say ‘we don’t think this is right,’ those are the kind of assurances that I’m looking for—that the board and the administration won’t do that kind of stuff and that they’ll work with us to not let that happen.”

The mayor insisted that the core services of both hospitals must be protected. “The task force is one thing; it’s today that I’m concerned about. I want to know that I have an ally in the board and the administration to go to the Province and say ‘you know, our long-term debate, that’s fine, we’ll continue that discussion. I think that we will come out with a proposal for two acute-care sites and that’s great, but today the funding formula is killing our hospital and we need to fight that battle together.'”

He said if the hospital board of directors and administrators are unable to make such a commitment, he will put a slightly amended version of the previous resolution before council to be voted on. In terms of the possibility of the Province stepping in and appointing an administrator, he said it’s a chance he’s willing to take. “I think we would have a better chance dealing with an administrator at that point, and I would take that risk because I think it’s worth it to save our hospital.”

Asked whether single-siting acute-care services was a real threat, given the reaction of a great number of the community to the idea, Aitchison said there are some who believe that is exactly what should happen.

He said the interim Chief of Staff at MAHC, Dr. Biagio Innantuono, who works out of South Muskoka Memorial Hospital, has said that single-siting surgical care is what should be done. “That’s pretty self-serving for Biagio,” said the mayor. “By the way, in this era of me-too, I have no idea how that guy could be the temporary chief of staff… talk about lack of judgment,” he said, referring to a 2009 disciplinary hearing by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, in which Dr. Innantuono was reprimanded for professional misconduct. You can find that story here.

The mayor also referred to a legal threat made by the board and administration team of the hospital following a submission to Doppler, as ill advised. Town counsel for the mayor has since penned a response in essence stating that the mayor will continue to speak on things that are of public interest.

“I’m no lawyer but I know that what I said wasn’t defamation from the beginning, so I wasn’t terribly concerned about it,” said Aitchison, adding that the threat of a legal lawsuit “speaks to the arrogance and the fear that these people operate under.”

Monday night’s meeting starts at 7 pm and will be held in the Algonquin Theatre. All council meetings are public and open to everyone.

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  1. Len Macdonald on

    What nasty, dirty games you are playing, Mr. Mayor. Is there anything that you won’t do, any dirt that you won’t throw,” have you no shame, at long last , have you no shame?” This kind of muck-raking is beneath even you.

    Is this really your idea of working co-operatively on a joint solution for healthcare in Muskoka? This smells of unseemly and unprofessional conduct on your part. Perhaps you are the one who should be fired and October isn’t far off.

    • This hospital debate has gone on long enough. It’s clear what the majority of town’s people want, and that is two hospitals fully functioning and giving the best care for both Huntsville and Bracebridge. Both great growing communities in their own right. If mud is to be slung let’s direct it at government funding for smaller or mid sized hospitals.

      • Here Here and make sure the Mud doesn’t hit the hardworking volunteers who spend countless hours trying to get the best for all of us…..The Enemy is in Toronto !

  2. Frances Botham on

    I’ve read everything I could find for a considerable length of time on the hospital issue in Muskoka.
    Meetings and discussions seem to go on with much the same dialogue, and it continues.
    There has been succinct input from very knowledgable individuals which should be heeded.
    The people have spoken over and over again. How much public input is needed here?
    It is clear to me that the people want two hospitals, and not a single site. They give a multitude of reasons.
    Meetings are fine if there is an agenda that indicates a plan that moves the issue forward.
    Are the members of the board not individuals who demonstrate professional conduct and understand the necessity for informed concise decisions? If they can’t meet this criteria, they should resign from the board immediately.
    Let’s move forward.

  3. I’m confused. I’ve tried to read everything everyone has said about this hospital affair and Mr Clarke I don’t know what you read that I missed but I know I will be voting for the Mayor due to the fact he has been listening to the people. Personally I think he’s doing a wonderful job, atm.

    • I support the Mayor as well. I believe that he has the best interests of the people of Huntsville at heart. Not sure why anyone would want to malign him in the way that certain people have. Slinging mud is no way to cool the debate to a proper level and move forward to a solution that will address the greatest number of concerns of the greatest number of people.

    • He is doing a wonderful job and so are the hardworking Volunteers who spend countless hours on our behalf .

  4. Terry M. Russell on

    Your Worship: stick with the motion.

    I also suggest that Council consider another motion asking the MAHC Chair & CEO to instruct the dubious Dr. Innantuono to keep his opinions to himself.

    • Len Macdonald on

      Actually, according to the list of members, Dr. Innantuono is a member of the planning committee and he and the mayors (who are also members) are all expected to provide their opinions and ideas. That’s why they were asked to be on this committee. There are a total of 7 doctors on this committee. I think they have a pretty good idea of what is needed in our hospitals, they work there.

  5. “What we have here is a failure to communicate” – Cool Hand Luke. Turning this lack of mutual cooperation into a high-stakes game of chicken benefits absolutely nobody.
    Firstly, His Honour writes a non-defamatory epistle in this source. Being thin-skinned by nature, apparently, the MAHC Board threatens legal action; where no traction exists. Then they execute a hairpin turn and concede that they will consider the two-site solution as a viable alternative. After less than a week’s contemplation, that solution is off the table; and one of the sites (read Huntsville) will lose their OR privileges. A motion of non-confidence (amended to appoint an administrator) is truly the only solution; unless the MAHC Board agrees to approach the Province in concert with the Town. If both sides wait to see who blinks first, we will definitively lose the most important, life-saving aspect of our hospital services.
    Mr. Aitchison, I have not always agreed with you in the past: but aside from your “cheap shot” at MAHC”s Chief-of-Staff (which was totally inappropriate in the context), you certainly have my 100% approval in this instance.

    • Tamara de la Vega on

      Dear Mr. Millman,
      I always look forward to your comments and thank you for reading, but note that it is important to set the record straight with respect to your following comment: “After less than a week’s contemplation, that solution is off the table; and one of the sites (read Huntsville) will lose their OR privileges.” The mayor was simply using the closure of the operating room in either Huntsville or Bracebridge as an example. MAHC has not yet announced any decisions regarding a future hospital model for this area.

      • I’m sorry, Tamara, but the statement was in quotation marks (one at the first; two at the end). Does that make it quasi-whimsical? in any case, I’m glad that the Mayor was merely spit-balling; and that the two-site solution is still being considered as a viable alternative.
        And thank you: You’re certainly a party of one who looks forward to my frequently vitriolic comments.

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