City's legal bill for hospital injunction opinion more than $4,600

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Cornwall Community Hospital

CORNWALL, Ontario - Taxpayers forked out $4,644 for a legal opinion on an injunction to stop the moving of a small section of the Cornwall Community Hospital laboratory - histology services - to Ottawa.

City CAO Norm Levac confirmed the cost for the seven-page opinion, authored by municipal lawyer Christopher Clermont, that told city council it had no authority to try and halt the move through an injunction and that the hospital board was not obligated to appear before legislators to explain the move.

The lawyer's opinion was hardly a surprise, given that the hospital is governed by the province and many thought the city was overstepping its bounds by considering an injunction.

Council approved the motion by Andre Rivette to seek a legal opinion after the board turned down an invitation to appear before council in June.

Only Mayor Bob Kilger and Coun. Denis Thibault voted against the motion, citing the fact that the hospital board does not answer to city hall.

"It's not in my nature to second-guess a decision by the majority of council," Kilger said in an interview. "I accept the majority decision of council.

"It’s more important to focus on making every effort to improve our relations with the hospital and (its leadership)."

Thibault was unavailable for comment.

Because of retirements, it is now believed that no jobs at the hospital lab will be lost, though four positions will not be filled. Hospital officials say the move will improve efficiency and improve the sustainability of the Cornwall lab.

City councillors are miffed that the hospital has put off a request to appear at city hall and explain the decision to consolidate the histology department. Instead, hospital leadership has offered to meet this fall.

Cornwall Community Hospital is one of 16 hospitals in the region that has moved histology services to the regional lab.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Hospital

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Ottawa

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