Below average provincial funding of about 1.4 per cent for the newly amalgamated Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) in 2017, “is bad news for patient care and cause for alarm at a time of significant change,” said Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1974 president Mike Rodrigues at a media conference today.

A general 3.1 per cent increase in hospital funding was proposed in the 2017 provincial budget last April. Following that, in the throes of a by-election, the Sault Area Hospital received a 3.8 per cent funding increase. On average hospitals are receiving about 2 per cent well below the announced 3.1 per cent, but real costs are rising by 5.3 per cent.

“It looks like our hospital won’t even scratch the low end of the 2 per cent funding. That’s a serious problem since the hospital has been overcapacity, with a marked increase in patients for most of 2017,” says Rodrigues.

For 2017‑2018, KHSC received only a $7.659 million funding increase. When all the hospital’s revenue streams are factored, the increase amounts to about 1.4 per cent for the coming year, just as the new hospital, an “integration” of the Hotel Dieu and Kingston General hospitals, gets off the ground.

Provincial funding below inflationary pressures at KHSC will sadly fuel more cuts to care, beds and staff, said Michael Hurley president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). “More patients will continue to be adversely affected. They will be cared for in solariums, tub rooms and hallways, by overstretched and exhausted staff because there just aren’t enough beds and front‑line staff to meet the care needs of increasingly sicker patients.”

Based on the latest figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Ontario government funding for hospitals is $1,395.73 per capita. The rest of Canada, excluding Ontario, spends $1,749.69 per capita. This means that provincial and territorial governments outside of Ontario spend $353.96 more (about 25.3 per cent more) per person on hospitals than Ontario does.

In October 2016, OCHU/CUPE organized a large provincial rally in Kingston attended by over 1000 health care workers, aimed at increasing funding by 5 per cent for hospitals, to stem 10 years of cuts. The Ontario Hospital Association called for a similar investment in hospital funding to reflect the actual hospital operating costs. Rallies were also held in Hamilton, Kenora and Sudbury. Another rally is planned for October in Ottawa at the Montfort hospital.