LETTER: Population growth a growing problem for Guelph

Guelph’s resources can’t handle current population, let alone any increase, reader says

GuelphToday received the following letter to editor from reader Jay Wilson regarding concerns about rapid population growth in Guelph:

Guelph anticipates and plans for rapid population growth. I believe the 2051 target is 208,000. There is an exorbitant amount of community planning and consultation going on to accommodate this growth and although forecasts, planning documents, written studies and meetings are valuable, everyday life can often provide more accurate information. In other words, meetings are a source of information, but first-hand experience can also be a resource for building a vision of what the future might look like.

A few days ago, my partner had a health problem. Since it was the weekend, she decided to wait until Monday to make an appointment with her doctor even though she could have gone to the emergency room or a walk-in clinic. She had very valid reasons to wait. When she called her doctor’s office on Monday, she was told the next available appointment was in 3 weeks, even if she chose to see the nurse practitioner. He was advised to go to the clinic without an appointment. Initially, walk-in clinics were designed to accommodate patients during hours when family physicians were not working, such as late at night or on weekends. Now, however, walk-in clinics serve as patient admissions due to the huge demand for doctor visits. In other words, Guelph’s resources are not sufficient for the current population, let alone any increase.

“Places To Grow” is legislated by the provincial government, just like health care. We are told that growth is inevitable and given our current economic structure, there are valid reasons to think that way. Growth generates wealth. Wealth generates, THE POTENTIAL for healthy societies, but only with strict controls and a balance of resources. Any upset of this balance and of society can quickly become unhealthy and dangerous.

Mr. Ford says, “Ontarians are getting the health care they need. Oh good? I have attached a photo of the queue for the walk-in clinic taken on Monday August 29th. You can see the queue is quite long. Some will not come in to see the doctor and will be asked to show up again tomorrow. Luckily there was no thunderstorm as there is no protection for people waiting in line. They stand in a parking lot. I feel especially sorry for moms with young children and the elderly who struggle to stand for hours, waiting.

I hear the average wait in the emergency department at Guelph General is 12 hours and I read that there were no ambulances. I see overworked and stressed healthcare workers. And I see burnt out patients reacting with anger and abuse. What does “the health care we need” look like? So remind me again how this will improve when Guelph’s population reaches 208,000? Things look very different here on the ground compared to the documents generated at city hall and at the provincial level.