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Environment Minister commits funding for Lambton Health Study, community needs commitment on timeline: MPP Bailey

(Queen’s Park) – Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey is encouraged to hear that the provincial Minister of the Environment will fund a long-sought-after community health study in Sarnia following pressure from the Official Opposition PC Caucus in Question Period on Monday.  However, on Tuesday the Minister dodged providing a detailed timeline, raising some concerns for MPP Bailey.

The announcement came two days after the airing of a TV documentary that highlighted a failure of the Liberal Government to adequately respond to concerns raised by local residents, and an unwillingness to partner with local industry to pay for the study.   Monday morning at Queen’s Park, Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown and MPP Bailey called for an inquiry into the Liberal Government’s handling of health concerns raised by individuals in the Sarnia-Lambton community. Local governments and industry have long backed calls for a study of the health impacts, to no avail.

“For years, the Sarnia-Lambton community has asked for a study of what impact, if any, local industry has on residents and workers in our community. For the better part of a decade this Liberal government has ignored us, plain and simple,” said MPP Bailey.

On Tuesday, the Official Opposition PC Caucus continued the questioning asking for a timeline from the Premier.  “The fact it took nine years to commit to this study still leaves me and the community with concerns,” said MPP Bailey. “Saying they are doing the study is one thing; committing and introducing a timeline is another. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier release the study’s timeline today?”

In 2008, MPP Bailey wrote to then Health Minister George Smitherman echoing calls from local government to fund a study on the industry’s health impacts in the community.  In 2010, MPP Bailey questioned then Minster of Health, Deb Matthews, on delays in funding for the study.

“Had the government fulfilled its responsibility and funded the study back in 2008, we would have the answers to the questions that we are still asking today.  Without those answers we will continue to be the focus of negative media stories and unending speculation,” added MPP Bailey.

“There are so many positive stories in our community that need to be front and centre; we have the top-rated applied research college in the province in Lambton College; the globally recognized Sarnia-Lambton Research Park; our skilled trades maintain the highest standards of safety in Ontario; our local industry helped develop Responsible Care, the international standard for chemical production; and we have two Blue Flag beaches among our 300km of freshwater shoreline.”

MPP Bailey concluded, “Our local industry produces the products that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in Ontario’s automotive, food and beverage, construction, plastics, electronics, and pulp and paper industries.  Our work is vital to the health and prosperity of our province.  That’s the story that I want written.”

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