On June 8th members of the Branson Community Action Group met with Dr. Tim Rutledge, Chief Executive Officer of North York General Hospital.  At this meeting were Dr. Tim Rutledge, Jennifer Bowman, and Tara Bulfer of the North York General Hospital, James Pasternak ward 10 Councillor, Shelley Stillman and Kenneth Schafer of the Branson Community Action Group.

During this meeting Dr. Rutledge revealed the hospital’s plans for the old Branson Hospital.  On June 1st the Urgent Care Centre was closed and replaced, temporarily, with a same day primary care centre that is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. 

The Ambulatory Care Centre is still open but will be transitioned out when suitable therapeutic space can be found and leased.  The hospital reported that it will be spending the summer looking for suitable therapeutic space where it can relocate the services that it houses in the Ambulatory Care Centre also at the Branson Campus. 

Services to be moved to a new site or sites include mental health services, diabetes consultation, complex diabetes care, CCAC, the Ontario Breast Screening Programme and Cataract Surgery.

North York General Hospital will be asking local physicians in the Westminster-Branson community to lead a new group to open up a same day primary care service in the Bathurst and Finch area to replace the one currently in the Branson Hospital Building.  Dr. Rutledge has said that all decisions made by the hospital are governed by the hospital’s “patient first” core value – “Patients come first in everything we do.”  He has further indicated that “a single satellite or hub model is consistent with our [the hospital’s] vision which would contain a robust same day primary care service with physicians, nurses, social workers, and treatment planners all supported by ancillary add-on services provided by North York General Hospital.  These services might include the Ontario Breast Screening Programme, Mental Health Services, Diabetes support services, and specialized geriatric services.  The hospital will conduct a search study for suitable space over the summer.”    

Councillor James Pasternak, Ward 10, raised a few concerns during the meeting.  To his knowledge there is very little space currently available in the Bathurst/Finch area where the hospital could locate a new satellite or hub.  Much of the space that is available is of the 1980’s vintage.  He feels that the hospital will gain little by moving out of Branson into a similar space.  He felt that it might be reasonable to consider re-entering into negotiations with Advent Health, the owner of the Branson Site, and work out a new lease for the medium term. 

Advent Health is planning to build a new medical building on Finch Avenue where the east parking lot is situated in 10 to 15 years.  Mr. Pasternak feels it might be more advantageous to renew the lease at Branson and transition into the new building when it becomes available.  North York General Hospital believes the current building is not adequate for the hospital’s needs and prefers to relocate services.  The hospital is willing to consider relocating back on the Branson Campus when the new medical building is available for occupancy if a suitable lease can be arranged.

The hospital has been looking for a long-term lease which Advent Health could not accommodate. It seems reasonable that possibly re-opening negotiations involving not only Advent Health, and North York General Hospital, but also the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and an experienced mediator could find a way around the log-jam and result in a lease that is acceptable to both the Hospital and Advent Health.

The Branson Community Action Group is concerned that if North York General Hospital goes ahead with its plan to transition out of the Branson property and if it cannot find suitable space to lease to create new satellite or hub that it will spread all these services out into individual spaces throughout the area and may even transition some of these services to its main campus at Sheppard and Leslie.

Such dispersion of these outpatient services away from the Branson/Finch area will create great hardship for the Bathurst Finch Community and the Bathurst Corridor Community that has high concentration of low income, new Canadian, seniors, and disabled residents who will find it very difficult to access the outpatient services they need if they are moved away from the Branson Campus especially if they end up at the Leslie/Sheppard site.

The Branson Community Action Group strongly urges North York General Hospital to do its due diligence in negotiating a new lease with Advent Health or makes sure it can relocate the outpatient services presently at Branson to a new satellite or hub in the Bathurst and Finch area.

More meeting are to be scheduled between the Branson Community Action Groupe and North York General Hospital in the fall of 2017. If you have input or questions you may contact the Branson Community Action Group by email at

Alterna Savings, the Financial Life-Time Partner of Business

Downsview Advocate met up with Alterna Savings in their buildings located in Toronto, in the centre of the City, at 800 Bay Street. Their offices are bright orange, immediately referring to a bright future, fortune and great opportunities.

Alterna was founded in 1908 as a Credit Union and along with providing financial products and services, Alterna provides micro-credits to individuals with low-income or individuals not eligible for a traditional credit in order for them to build their business. Every member is an owner of the company. Each member owns a share and also has the opportunity to vote for the board of directors. Everyone has a voice and a say. All profits generated by the financial cooperative are re-invested back to the credit union, a community and the micro finance program.

Today, Alterna has 143 000 members and 23 branches, one being at North York and only operates in Ontario. To help reach diverse communities, the Alterna Community Micro Finance program works with different organisations who have a good understanding of their communities.

Similar to other financial institutions, Alterna’s services range from chequing, savings to personal loans, mortgages and investment products.

To better understand the Alterna Savings Community Micro Finance Program, we met up with Susan Henry, Manager of Community Investments; she has over 20 years of experience in micro-finance. At Alterna, she is in charge of the Community Micro-finance program and the Community Loan Funds Partnership Program.

She went through the six programs Alterna has established =

  • Alterna Savings Income Builder Loans, in partnership with the Whole Planet Foundation. It helps people with low income, such as young adults, jobless people and people living on social assistance, who all want to become entrepreneurs in order to bridge their income gap.
  • Alterna Savings Skilled Professionals and Trades Loans which could apply to people with an earning of less than $50, 000 a year (per person). It helps people who want to start out in a skilled profession or trade.
  • Alterna Savings Working Women Business Loan, for women who already have a business and a year of revenue but still need a financial support to develop their company
  • Alterna Savings Social Impact Entrepreneurship Loans, which help business specialized in social issues, community issues or environmental ones.
  • Alterna Savings Success Accelerator Professional Development Loans, which give $5,000 to pay for courses, training, licensing, registrations fees.
  • Alterna Savings Community Micro-Finance Program.

These loans range from $ 1,000 to 25,000 with an average of $5,000.

Susan Henry is also in charge of ‘Networking Café’ which helps members build a network and their skills through workshops and webinars. For example, one of the last webinars  was ‘Understanding Your Number’, which provided a step-by-step guide to interpreting small business financial information.

In the 17 years she has been working at Alterna Savings, the Credit Union has given the equivalent of $4.5 million in loan capital  to individuals and organizations for them to build and strengthen their businesses.

Alterna Savings put the emphasis on helping people with financial situations which won’t allow them to get traditional loans or credits but also to help these entrepreneurs in every step of their business creation and development with a tight and personalised follow-up, making it a life-long partner.

Alterna Savings is why one idea, one individual’s dream, can become one business employing a hundred of people.

For her hard work, Susan Henry was rewarded with the Gary Gillam Award for Corporate Social Responsibility for championing Micro-finance in Canada in 2015 and Alterna Savings was awarded in 2016 with Ontario Credit Union Corporate Achievement Award.

The Home Buyer’s Plan


The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year from your Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.

Eligibility requirements to withdraw funds from you RRSPs to participate in HBP include:

  • Being a first time home buyer with a written agreement that you will be buying or building a qualified home.
  • Assisting a relative with a disability in buying or building a qualified home. (The person with the disabilities’ name must be on the agreement for this one)
  • You must occupy the qualified home and use it as your primary place of residence within one year after buying or building it.

Unless you are a person with a disability or helping a relative with a disability purchase or build their first home then you must be a first time home buyer to participate in the Home Buyers’ Plan. A first time home buyer is calculated within a four year period in which you (your spouse or common law) did not occupy a home as a first time home owner.

Using money from your RRSPs is a great source of funding for your mortgage down payment. The Canadian government’s HBP allows first time home buyers the opportunity to borrow up to $25, 000 from their RRSPs for a down payment, tax free! And if you are purchasing with someone who is also a first time homebuyer, you can both participate which will combine and become $50, 000.

One important factor to consider is that the HBP is considered a loan and must be repaid within 15 years.

For more expert advice contact:

Anat Papp, Sales Representative
Greenfield Real Estate Inc, Brokerage
Independently Owned and Operated
mobile: 416-712-6807
phone: 416-226-1020
fax: 416-398-1021