As someone who has been active in this community for most of my life, I try to keep up with the latest current events in our city.
The recent deliberations about city funding for a medical research institute and the reaction to this prospect has particularly caught my eye. I think it’s an excellent idea, both for our overall health, and our overall economy.
As a past board member of the Sudbury General Hospital, and as a patient, I can speak first-hand about the value and necessity of health care innovation.
I carry around in my chest what is called an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, or ICD. My cardiologist calls it a “paramedic in your pocket.” It automatically shocks my heart and returns it to a normal rhythm whenever my heart beats irregularly.
This device has saved my life. I received my ICD in London, because the procedure wasn’t available in Sudbury at the time. Now it is, at Health Sciences North. I get to stay here for my care and checkups. It makes a world of difference to be able to get the latest medical advances in my own community.
This device was invented and tested somewhere before it became available. I say why shouldn’t medical research and breakthroughs happen here, in Greater Sudbury?
Given our aging population, and rates of disease like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, I can’t think of a better place in Canada to have a medical research institute.
As a businessman and past director of our Chamber of Commerce, I can also speak first-hand about the economic value of such an endeavour. In my opinion, health care represents one of the greatest areas of potential growth in our local economy.
Before you wonder if this is a pipe dream at taxpayer’s expense, let me share this perspective. I was the creator of the Big Nickel mine. At the time, many people thought I was foolish to try to establish a tourist attraction in a city more famous for being a moonscape.
Well, next year the Big Nickel will celebrate its 50th birthday. It has even become one of Canada’s most famous landmarks. It has not only survived, it has thrived, now as part of Science North (another idea people thought would never get off the ground).
Where would our city be if visionary leaders abandoned projects like the Big Nickel, Science North, the Northeast Cancer Centre, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and even the Millenium Centre with the introduction of the big box stores to Sudbury?
Each of these projects required the support of our community and civic leaders, including financial support, when needed. Can you imagine what our city and economy would be like today if they weren’t here?
Over the years, Sudbury has thrived because our leaders were forward-thinking enough to change their thinking and explore bold new ways to diversify our economy. As a result, we have developed national if not international expertise in areas such as mining technology, environmental reclamation, tourism, and post secondary education. I think the next bold step is in health care.
As a patient, businessman, and community booster, I think an investment in research is not merely an investment in a building.
It is an investment in ourselves, and in the future of our community. We’ve been visionary and successful before. I say we show that same spirit again.