The fate of Scarborough Health Network’s 3 hospitals: Which option would you choose?

At the SHN2030 community open house, some residents said they need to be better informed of the network’s plans and consultations.

On Wednesday night, I joined more than 100 people at the Scarborough Health Network’s community open house, SHN2030.  

Representatives from SHN, including CEO and president Elizabeth Buller, cardiologist and Medical Staff Association president Amir Janmohamed, and CAO and executive vice-president David Graham welcomed attendees to the information-gathering session. Because SHN is set to present its plans for the future of Scarborough health care to Ontario’s health ministry, the network is gathering community feedback to inform these plans.

First, Graham presented SHN’s master plan for 2030, a five-stage process to design and build new hospital facilities for Scarborough. Attendees were then asked to consider how SHN should respond to projected changes in their community, including future population growth for bed requirements and existing land size of its three current hospitals (Birchmount, General and Centenary) to determine possible expansion of those sites, among other issues.

More than 100 people attended the Scarborough Health Network’s SHN 2030 Master Planning community open house on Wednesday.

Attendees were given three options for the development of SHN’s future facilities:

  1. Retain the Birchmount and Centenary sites.
  2. Retain the General and Centenary sites.
  3. Retain the Centenary site and look for a new site for a new Scarborough hospital.

“For our current volume and projected growth in Scarborough, two hospital sites are required,” Graham later told me, as attendees gathered at round tables to discuss their options. This means SHN will eliminate one hospital by 2030.

During Graham’s presentation, former city councillor and current Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Mike Del Grande asked what would happen to the Birchmount hospital if option 1 wasn’t on the table. It would be sold, Graham replied.

When talking to me later, Del Grande was perplexed that he hadn’t been aware of SHN’s consultations. “They missed me by three shots. As a former city councillor, as a trustee and as someone who sat on the previous [The Scarborough Hospital] board, I had no idea. How is that possible?” he asked.

Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Mike Del Grande (centre) talking to Scarborough Health Network president and CEO Elizabeth Buller (left).

Towards the end of the evening, each round table reported back on its discussions. Feedback ranged from calls to receive more notifications about the planning process, to requests for information in multiple languages.

“You can’t just leave it at translating the information. You actually have to get the message out to the people through various messengers — whether it’s faith-based organizations, community clinics, community centres,” said Kingsley Kwok, a respiratory therapist at SHN’s General hospital. “Also, how are they going to get people out to a public forum? Are they going to advertise on TV or on the internet?”

One respondent talked about community members’ lack of trust in SHN representatives, saying that it seemed as if decisions had already been made. Others indicated their preference for option 3, with the caveat that the new site serve North Scarborough or be built in a densely populated area.

“They really need to be looking at the changing demographics in North Scarborough,” Rhoda Potter, president of the Agincourt Village Community Association, told me. “Right next to us, at Sheppard and Kennedy, there are a whole lot of condos coming up. Families will move there, and health care is one of the main services they will need.”

Potter said she’d only heard about the SHN2030 community open house on Wednesday night through a colleague, and then visited the hospital’s website for details. “I couldn’t find it on the website,” Potter explained, adding that she ultimately found event details in the Scarborough Mirror. She then told friends in six community organizations to accompany her: “They didn’t know either, and we can help in getting the information out.”

Attendees voted on three options for two Scarborough hospitals in the future. Many voted for the third option, which was to keep the Centenary site and find a new hospital site, with the caveat that the new location serve North Scarborough.

Earlier this week, I wrote about SHN’s decision to close the obstetrics and pediatrics wards at its Birchmount site. Hospital spokespeople say consolidating the wards across its network will result in better health care for all Scarborough residents by concentrating services in well-equipped centres, rather than spreading resources too thinly across three sites. But many residents and doctors say patients will be at risk and community care will suffer if SHN’s plans go ahead.

What do you think about the network’s long-term vision for health care in Scarborough? Did you know about the proposed changes or community consultations? Email me your thoughts.


“When people ask where I’m from, I always say, ‘Scarborough.’ I don’t apologize for coming to Scarborough,” says author Carrianne Leung, author of The Wondrous Woo and That Time I Loved You.

The Scarborough that author Carrianne Leung grew up in, after her family moved to Canada from Hong Kong in 1971, is very different from what it looks like today. “[It] was very much predominantly white, so I was always one of maybe two kids of colour in my classes,” the 51-year-old says. “I lived in Agincourt before it was Asian-court, right?”

It’s a landscape that Carrianne explores in her second book, That Time I Loved You, a collection of interconnected short stories about a diverse group of families who live in a brand new subdivision. Her book tackles issues such as racism, queer identity and sexual violence — concepts that Carrianne says she didn’t have the language to talk about while growing up.

Carrianne recently wrapped up her term as a writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she led writing workshops, organized an event with fellow Scarborough writers David Chariandy and Catherine Hernandez, and worked on new writing. When Carrianne spoke on a panel at Nuit Blanche’s inaugural Scarborough expansion last year, she was moved by the experience, especially after learning about the “incredible creativity and cultural production that is happening in Scarborough” right now.

“To come back and see this Scarborough, which is something I wouldn’t have dreamt of when I was younger…[was] really cool,” she says.

With files from Kiran Ahmed

Culture connections

Director of communities Anita Li (left) interviewing Kiana “Rookz” Eastmond (right) on stage at Venture Out earlier this month.

On March 15, our director of communities and Scarborough producer Anita Li conducted a keynote interview with award-winning entrepreneur Kiana “Rookz” Eastmond in front of more than 400 attendees at LGBTQA+ tech conference Venture Out Conference. Rookz, who has lived in Scarborough on and off throughout her life, is the founder and director of Sandbox Studios, a high-profile urban music artist development and recording facility in Toronto. Artists like Cardi BTory Lanez and many local acts have worked out of Sandbox.

Rookz also recently became executive director of Manifesto, the festival and urban arts organization. ⁣⁣⁣⁣As a major player in Canada’s music scene for the past decade, she’s also worked with Drake, Raekwon, Kardinal Offishall, Vivian Scott Chew and many others. Check out this post for more on Anita’s experience interviewing Rookz. 

Let’s meet up

  • March 29. Spine-Chilling Scary Stories. If you’re excited to watch Us, this is the event for you. Listen to an hour-long selection of toe-curling stories from the award-winning podcast No Sleep. Warning: The stories contain graphic content, and are intended for a mature audience. Malvern Library. 5 to 6 p.m

  • March 30. Bridge-Building Competition 2019. Now in its 16th year, this competition tests kids’ engineering and creativity skills, while promoting National Engineering Month. Elementary-school students bring in built structures made out of popsicle sticks and glue; then the bridges are load-tested in front of an audience. Another competition for students, called the Seismic Resistance Building Contest, takes place at the same location and time. Scarborough Civic Centre. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • March 30. Scarborough Seedy Saturday and Green Fair. Spring is in the air, so early bird gardeners are likely seeing bulbs blooming in their gardens. But if you’re still deciding what to grow in your backyard, porch or balcony, get inspired at this event. Blessed Cardinal Newman High School, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.[end]

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