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Province makes large funding announcement for Oak Ridges Hospice

DAN CEARNS The Standard

SCUGOG: The province of Ontario is stepping up to support Oak Ridges Hospice of Durham. At the Scugog Memorial Public Library on Friday, November 8th, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and MPP Lindsey Park announced, in front of a packed room, $600,000 in one-time capital funding for the Oak Ridges Hospice to support the hospice project increasing from five beds to eight beds, and a commitment to provide $840,000 annually for operational expenses once the hospice opens. According to a press release from the Ministry of Health, this will allow the hospice to accommodate about 123 patients per year. “I know that Oak Ridges Hospice will be an important part of this beautiful community of Port Perry. The hospice is being built because people in this community recognized the need for a quiet, comfortable space where loved ones can receive the palliative care they need at their life’s end,” Minister Elliott said. MPP Lindsey Park called the announcement “so huge for this region.” “It’s evident how important this announcement is to the community,” MPP Park said, noting the high turnout at the announcement. Scugog Mayor Bobbie Drew said the township “truly appreciates the provincial support that is making a hospice in Scugog a reality.” She also gave an update on the project process. “Planning processes have been completed, and the foundation permit has been issued,” Mayor Drew said. Oak Ridges Hospice will be located on the lands of the former Immaculate Conception Catholic School, next to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Port Perry. Dr. Steve Russell of the Oak Ridges Hospice board told The Standard what it has been like working with the provincial government. “The Ministry of Health has been very supportive of our plan. We worked together on technical pieces of the design, and they’ve approved us at each stage. We’re very grateful to our MPP Lindsey Park for advocating on our behalf to try to move our project forward,” he said. He also spoke about the construction timeline. “We have our foundation permit now in hand. Obviously the first step is to lay a foundation, so that’ll be done in the next couple weeks. Then the construction project is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.” The Hospice will continue fundraising though. The capital contribution brings Oak Ridges Hospice’s campaign to $5.6 million in donations and pledges, with about $2 million still needing to be raised. Though Dr. Russell also stressed, in an email to The Standard, “we will need to continue to fund raise for ongoing operations, as the government only funds approximately 60 percent of our annual operating costs.”

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