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LAMBTON COUNTY EXTENDS LEVY FOR HOSPITAL BUILDING FUND

POSTED: JUNE 2, 2004

WYOMING - Today, June 2, Lambton County Council passed a motion to extend the tax levy for the hospital building project over another 10 years for an additional $15 million. Lambton County Council voted in March 2000, to support the Bluewater Health building project through a tax levy to raise $5 million. Currently homeowners are paying $9.22 based on an assessed value of $100,000. The extended tax levy to raise the additional $15 million for the community's portion of the $115 million building project will begin in 2005. The increase will be less than $7.00 per year at an approximate cost of $16.67 per year based on $100,000 assessment.

"We would like to thank Lambton County Council for the leadership they have shown today by supporting this request so our new community hospital can be built," said Alex Jongsma, who is Co-Chair of the State of the Heart Campaign, the third phase of the fundraising campaign organized by Bluewater Health Foundation.

"Bluewater Health provides care for close to 320,000 patients annually from across Lambton County," he added.

"We are at a critical stage in the approval process with the Ministry of Health," he said. "We have received a conditional approval for $80 million from the Provincial Government for this project, we have to send clear evidence to Queen's Park that our community can provide our share or $35 million."

"The new building at the Norman Site will consolidate hospital services at one location and allow for better patient care thanks to state-of-the-art technology and better diagnostic tools," said Jongsma. "It will also end confusion about where patients should go for hospital services."

In 1995, local citizens, through an extensive public consultation process, made the decision to locate the two Sarnia hospitals at one site, which was known then as St. Joseph's Health Centre. The Province's Health Services Restructuring Commission supported the local decision in November 1996. That made the decision legally binding.

The architectural team is now completing the working drawings, the documents that will be used to tender the project. However, Bluewater Health must receive Provincial approval on its design plan submission before the tender documents can be finalized. A key component of the approval process required by the Provincial Government is the commitment of the capital building budget, which outlines the local community's 30% share or $35 million.

"The overwhelming support we received from Lambton County Council today sends a clear message to the Provincial Government that building our new hospital is one of our top priorities," said Gail Furlan, Co-Chair, State of the Heart Campaign.

She added, "The residents of Lambton County have clearly demonstrated their commitment to this vital project, it is now in the hands of the Provincial Government."

To date, Bluewater Health Foundation has raised $20 million of the $35 million community goal through two fundraising campaigns: Phase 1, Growing Expectations raised $5 million and $15 million was raised through Phase 2, Project Lambton Hospitals. The Provincial Government is providing 70% of the building cost to consolidate the Sarnia facilities at the current Norman Site.

Bluewater Health Foundation will now begin Phase 4 of its fundraising campaign, which will raise funds to purchase the medical and diagnostic equipment for the new Sarnia hospital building.