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Open letter: Redo a proper tendering process for Cassellholme urges area mayor

'The Ontario Construction Association cited serious concerns with the initial tender, which in turn limited the range of qualified respondents to a single company'

Member Mayors and Councils of the Cassellholme Board of Management for the District of Nipissing East 

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to make some constructive suggestions on how we might collectively move forward to address the need for increased long-term care capacity in East Nipissing. It is fair to say we are at a place none of us expected to be when we began this process ten years ago, but I believe that presents us with a real opportunity to take control to get things right.

I am therefore suggesting that we unanimously call on the province to support our municipalities in requiring the Board of Management to redo a proper tendering process. As we know, the Ontario Construction Association cited serious concerns with the initial tender, which in turn limited the range of qualified respondents to a single company.

We will never know if the price and terms being imposed on us are fair and reasonable if we have nothing to compare to and I believe we owe it to our taxpayers to try to get competitive bids from no less than three qualified contractors.

In addition to launching a new tendering process, I propose that we all consider the following five specific steps:

1.      Immediately alter the membership of the Board of Management to include at least three skills-based members with experience in such areas as construction management and municipal finance. Even if these members are ex-officio, it is important that going forward the Board of Management have these important perspectives represented around their decision-making table in addition to that of our appointed political representatives.

2.      Determine what reasonable per bed construction costs are for the redevelopment of a Long-Term Care facility. Aside from more than doubling the projected cost of this project since we began these discussions ten years ago, we have conflicting advice on how the sole bid that was received compares to other LTC projects currently underway in the province – some say we are completely in line while others believe the sole bid received could be as much as 50% higher than the norm.

3.      The nine-member municipalities deserve a straight answer on whether the type of guaranteed financing arrangement being imposed on us is necessary or if there are other options. It seems to me that this is an accounting model that works well in theory but has no regard for the realities of municipal budgets and the pressures our residents are already under.

4.      We need to better understand the impact and necessity of member municipalities being forced to guarantee not only our own share of the construction costs but also the provincial portion of the project. It seems ironic that a facility that is funded by the provincial government would also require member municipalities to max out their borrowing capacity to secure a provincial construction loan to redevelop it.

In the case of Papineau-Cameron, this could mean doubling tax bills in the coming years if costs of this redevelopment are not reigned in, and the full weight of the project is placed on our shoulders. We cannot, through this single project, tie our hands and restrict our ability to deliver all the other high-quality services and infrastructure that our residents deserve. I encourage everyone to examine what this means for their taxpayers and your ability to deliver other major initiatives that are priorities locally.

5. Commence discussions with the province on amending the Long-Term Care Homes Act to make the terms of belonging to and exiting a Board of Management fairer to member municipalities. Having everyone within a certain catchment area participating on a per capita basis may have seemed like a good idea when the model was created but what we are learning now is member municipalities are remarkably close to losing their autonomy and having serious long term financial handcuffs placed on them by an unelected body. I will always support a good deal if it makes sense for the people I represent but I will not stand by and accept the imposition of a deal that jeopardizes the delivery of vital municipal services for years to come.

I want to be clear – this letter to all of you and these recommendations are not meant to point fingers. It is a request to seize the opportunity that is before us to get the redevelopment of Cassellholme back on track on terms that we can all get behind. We all have a common goal to improve and expand patient care in East Nipissing. I ask for your support and look forward to a discussion soon about these suggestions and any other good ideas that member municipalities wish to bring forward.


Mayor Robert Corriveau

The Corporation of the Township of Papineau-Cameron

Cc        Hon. Vic Fedeli, MPP, Nipissing

            Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care

            Hon. Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure