- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Each time a racist incident is reported to us, we carefully consider whether or not to report on it.  We try not to give chauvinists or their offensive words or images any space on our platform.

But this time bigotry is entering the realm of governance, the bodies that make decisions on behalf of all of us. 

We are strong advocates for councils and legislatures that represent our communities.  We want to break down any barriers to participation for committed individuals from a healthy range of ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. Part of the role of the media is to ensure, as best we can, that "debates remain civil and free of rumours, conjecture, and bigotry."

Those last are the words of Aakash Desai, the  Deputy Mayor of Grey Highlands.  He, and the majority on Grey County Council, voted recently for a pause in the re-development of Grey Gables Long-Term Care Home in Markdale.  A constituent took exception to his position, and chose to end their comment with the suggestion that Mr. Desai did not belong in his own community.

Here is the full post. Mr. Desai's words deserve air.

“Or go back to Brampton.”

A since deleted comment on my page from Monday night told me that if I don’t support the Grey Gables expansion, I should go back to Brampton.

facebookdesai1I’m from Grey County. This has been my home for the last fourteen years. I’ve spent more time living in Grey County than any other place in the thirty-one years I’ve been around. This is where I first got involved in volunteering with community groups. This is where I first got elected to public office. This is where I met my now fiancée. This is where I bought my first home. This is where I built my life. So, it stings when someone tells me to go back to a place that I never called home simply because of the colour of my skin.

The issue of Grey Gables’ expansion has been divisive. I voted to ensure it remained a public asset. I voted to apply for additional beds. I voted to investigate the feasibility of having a new build and my position remains unchanged on these items. I also voted to pause the new build when the cost of it was astronomical.

There are two main reasons I voted to put a pause on the new build at Grey Gables. Firstly, we are unable to afford it. Secondly, we are chronically understaffed for the current number of beds at Grey Gables.

During the 2021 budget deliberations, 17 members of county council voted to draw 1% of the taxes from reserves to artificially lower the tax increase in Grey County. The recorded vote I requested will corroborate my opposition to this. The rationale at the time was that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that the increase of 3.11% was unbearable for many. For some of these members to now turn around and commit to a 4% increase over the following years on a single item is nothing short of hypocritical. For those who criticised my opposition to the artificially lowered taxes, to now slam my opposition to the new build is also hypocritical. It is important to note that despite what is being peddled on social media, the build hasn’t been cancelled. We are simply requesting an extension on the deadlines. Something the Ministry of Long-Term Care has shown favour for. The beds aren’t lost. And if a vote were to be called again on selling Grey Gables I remain opposed to selling it.

A lot has been made of the lower levels of care at for-profit homes. I am not here to defend them, nor am I here to argue against statistics. What I will facebookdesai2say is that if we are chronically understaffed for the 66 beds currently at Grey Gables, how will we be able to maintain the level of care expected from a not-for-profit home when we have 128 beds? I could not, in good conscience, jeopardise the levels of care at Grey Gables because I don’t believe in cutting off my nose to spite my face.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people will believe everything on social media despite the amount of misinformation on it. As I mentioned earlier, postponing the new build does not necessarily jeopardise the 62 newly approved beds for Grey Gables. It definitely does not jeopardise the 66 beds that are currently at Grey Gables.

The debate around the delivery of long-term care in Grey County has always been passionate. Yet, it is important that these debates remain civil and free of rumours, conjecture, and bigotry. I have created a Facebook page so that I can be more accessible to my constituents. So while I have stated my reasons for voting the way I did, I am more than happy to talk further about my decisions and provide context to those who reach out to me by email, phone, or have a chat while I’m about town, assuming they’re up for conversation rather than telling me to “go back to Brampton”.








CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators