Cornwall city hall
CORNWALL, Ontario - City councillors expressed further frustration with the Cornwall Community Hospital over a refusal to meet with the municipal body to discuss consolidation of one of its departments - but conceded they are out of options.
Not surprisingly, a municipal lawyer is suggesting the city will be unsuccessful in getting a court to agree to an injunction that would stop the consolidation of the histology department at the hospital.
Lawyer Christopher Clermont tells municipal officials in a letter that the city fails to meet a variety of thresholds that would make it more likely for an injunction to be granted.
"I want to commend the councillors and my seconder who came across and voted in favour of getting the information. The city has done all it could. I feel comfortable there," said Coun. Andre Rivette, who spearheaded the move to seek a legal opinion.
But frustration with hospital officials who have put off a meeting to explain the move until this fall was simmering just below the surface.
"I am disappointed in the hospital and this process," said Coun. Bernadette Clement. "Not the decision…but in the fact that they wouldn’t necessarily come and speak to us or exchange with us…on this issue.
“We are a vital partner to the hospital…and we certainly care about what is going on the community.”
Coun. Glen Grant took it a step further and called the hospital move "an insult."
Most specifically Clermont suggested the city was attempting to get involved in an area outside its scope by demanding the hospital appear before city councillors to explain the move.
"In my opinion the court will likely perceive the city's application for an injunction...at the city trying to assert authority over health care services that are properly outside the scope of the city's statutory mandate," writes Clermont. "Further, I must point out that while the city may invite anyone to make a presentation to council, there is not provision in the Municipal Act that permits a municipality to compel any person to appear before council to answer questions."
Coun. Denis Thibault and Mayor Bob Kilger were the only two members of council to vote against seeking a legal opnion on the matter.
Weeks ago city council requested hospital officials make a presentation to explain the decision which has been made the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association.
The histology department at the hospital is being consolidated in Ottawa which will result in as many as four positions in Cornwall being eliminated and critics are charging the move could delay the amount of time it takes for local patients to receive test results.
The hospital has offered to meet with the city this fall to discuss the move, but council wants answers now.
Councillors have suggested the hospital owes some kind of an explanation, considering the city has offered up millions of dollars to help upgrade the facility.