2013-02-04 at 22:02
Rebecca Johnson voted against the recommendation to give RegenMed another $150,000 loan.
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City council has given the financially struggling Lake Superior Centre for Regenerative Medicine another $150,000 lifeline.
The majority of council voted to give the only non-profit bone and tissue bank in Canada another loan. That brings the total amount given by the city to about $1.5 million. Council had already agreed to give a mostly interest free loan of $150,000 in October.
Only At-Large Coun. Rebecca Johnson voted against the recommendation.
Johnson said she voted against the recommendation because it appeared that there was no end to the amount being asked.
“This is continuing and it is going on and on and I do not think council or the citizens of this community are prepared to keep putting money into a private industry,” she said. “It’s around $1.5 million and I think that’s too much. I think the initial dollar allocation was just over $100,000 and we had that opportunity to provide that. It got the organization up and going but I think at this point and time it’s enough.”
The new loan was approved on the condition that RegenMed would receive provincial support. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews confirmed the province will help prop up the struggling Thunder Bay bone and tissue bank but didn’t reveal how much.
RegenMed board member Yves Fricot said if they didn’t receive the support from the province they would have looked at closing. He said there’s a zero per cent chance that the company will return to council to ask for more assistance.
“The city has helped this organization get to a place where its role is now within the health-care system,” Fricot said. “We don’t intend to come back and we made that commitment the last time we went before council back in October. The business plan is obviously borrowing the money and paying it back… the whole amount.”
Currently, RegenMed covers one-third of the bone and tissue that’s donated in the province.
With further support from the province, the company will be able to expand operations over the next few years, he said.
Fricot wouldn’t go into any specifics regarding the ongoing negotiations with the province but said they have received a commitment for a “significant amount” and hope to reveal the amount within the week.
“There’s an incredible growth period where you’re trying to change this how part of the health-care system works in the province,” he said. “That comes with a whole bunch of challenges. You have to change the relationship hospitals have with agencies with how they source bone and tissue. That’s proven to be a real challenge. There’s been no question that there has been growing pains.”
He added that starting in February the company’s technicians will be starting to do skin recovery in addition to bone and tissue recovery.
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