Mayors looking for council support on the future of health care in Muskoka at a joint meeting at the Algonquin Theatre Monday


The mayors of Huntsville and Bracebridge will be holding a joint council meeting at the Algonquin Theatre on Monday, February 1 at 7 p.m.

The meeting is open to everyone and is being held by the mayors to garner support from their councils to push for a two hospital model in Muskoka, rather than the one model being proposed.

If they get the nod from their councils, they will pitch their proposal to a taskforce established by the Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network. The taskforce was established by the LHIN (which will report back to the Ministry of Health) in order to find consensus in the community on how to deal with the financial shortfalls affecting the hospitals. Muskoka Algonquin Health Care, which administers both hospitals, is supporting a one hospital model for Muskoka, but the mayors insist there’s another solution. Aitchison said they’ve been working with the LHIN and their own consultants and are now ready to make their pitch, pending approval from their councils.

He said their proposal would keep both hospitals open and look at a rationalization of some services “to make sure we can fit within the funding formula and use this as a launch point to effectively change the way we deliver healthcare services in Muskoka, (and) as a model for other communities as well.”

Again, the joint council meeting is open to everyone. Please follow this link to see more on Monday’s meeting.


  1. I applaud the work of Mayors Aitchison and Smith in attempting to maintain local hospital services. Their common front should also ensure that HBAM does not have them competing for scarce, financial resources. Whereas the “campus of care” approach is laudable as a concept, it works less well realistically in Huntsville (where it conflicts with the redevelopment of Fairvern to include retirement facilities).

    Finally, everybody wins when all deliberations are transparent: kudos to all the stakeholders.

    • I am a year round seasonal resident of Huntsville, and have been coming here for over 50 years. I’ve also been a hospital CEO & CFO through out North America. I’ve been watching this issue play out, and I’m very disappointed. 1st; everyone fails to realize that the core to our local network is our physicians and nurses. What attracts & retains them. Bricks & mortar are secondary as these individuals are so dedicated, that they would practice in any facility. They s/b a major core to any of your committees. 2nd; this discussion sounds like we are in the 1970s. With technology, Internet, electronic medical records, digital imaging and etc., you can operate efficiently in 2 locations. The problem is that you have not delegated to managers with patient care responsibility. Arm chair managers running back and forth between facilities is inefficient. 3rd; what I believe is needed are 2 high level ambulatory facilities in both Bracebridge & Huntsville, with equal emergency facilities with observation beds. Equal ambulatory surgery, radiology and ancillary services. 4th; if you do this, with stepped up observation beds at both facilities, you may be able to avoid intensive care and routine beds, as those patients could be transferred to facility south of you. 5th; you have developed a win/lose scenario and the physicians, nurses and community lose. 6th; lastly, this current process sets up local communities seeing no benefit in donating funds. Maybe the root to the problem is that we could do a better job in persuading Ottawa for improved funding, versus just reducing direct patient care. I would love to assist you, free of charge, if so interested.

      • Karen A. Insley on

        I can appreciate the comments of Richard Hogg, a CEO, CFO in other facilities in North America. Perhaps a little more detail as to the exact locales might help because, as you know, each geographical and populace area are unique as is Muskoka. I agree with the analogy of the political and journalistic discussions being in the 1970s. I too am disappointed with the recent rhetoric vs. the 2 years of MAHC study/public and expert consultations/potential human resource attractions/best technology/new facility and last but of key importance here, our Muskoka as a whole vs. the town centres of Huntsville/Bracebridge. Further, these two locations are fraught with real legitimate concerns affecting acute health service delivery and logistical problems for timely access. Two major important factors here are: highly specialized care which will not be afforded to two facilities vs. one in Muskoka; and optimizing area EMS response times. I don’t know about a seasonal year round resident, but suspect, as a year round resident in the catchment area, my preference would be the best of all worlds for a new high level medical facility built to the day’s standards. We must also keep in mind that an acute care hospital is one important spoke in the larger health care system being built in Muskoka today, (Health Hubs, and Nursing Stations etc). Our Health Care Model will look very different ten years from now and also impacts the decision made. I agree that the Federal Government could contribute more to this story. The $ aspect isn’t the only one though. FI, my background encompasses professional health and management, private business and public service at all Canadian government levels and I have been involved supporting health for the whole of Muskoka and Almaguin Highlands.

  2. I attended the council meeting that was open to the public, held at the Algonquin Theatre on February 1st. I appreciate the opportunity to hear of the plans for the future of health care in this region. I also appreciate the work of all those working toward a positive future for health care in the area.
    Having said that, please do not be fooled into thinking that the plan proposed on Feb. 1st, 2016, will result in two comparable acute care hospitals. Rather, the plan includes a “Site A” which will be an Acute care Hospital ( includes Surgery, and Obstetrics) and a “Site B” which will be a non-acute care facility (includes geriatrics and rehabilitation). While it is said that both sites will have emergency departments, it will most likely be the case that ambulances will bypass site B if they are transporting critically injured or seriously ill patients.
    If my community ends up with Site A, I will be happy but if my community ends up with Site B, I will not be happy.
    There were many words and much jargon spoken at the meeting, much of it irrelevant to where the hospital would be located. There can be a “campus of care” and a “health care hub”, where-ever we decide to locate the building.
    This sounds a lot like the original plan that many people were opposed to, being re-packaged and presented in colourful wrapping paper.
    I favour a new, single-site hospital located in a geographically central location and anyone that I have spoken to has said that given a choice between Site B and one central acute care hospital, they would choose one, new, central site.
    We won’t know whether the provincial and federal government will support such a project unless we ask.

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