NORTH BAY, ON ― Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data indicates that hospitals in the rest of Canada get 25.3 per cent more funding from provincial governments than hospitals in Ontario. Ontario’s Liberal government is underfunding the care of patients at North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) by millions of dollars each year.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) will hold a media conference Wednesday, November 25 at 10 a.m. to reveal how much provincial funding for NBRHC would need to increase in order to reach the average hospital funding level in the rest Canada. The media conference will be held at 120 Lakeshore Drive.
“The rain of cuts in North Bay in acute care, with the elimination of nursing and direct patient care and mental health beds and programs, can be traced to the decision to lag hospital expenditures by 25 per cent relative to the other provinces. Among provinces and territories, Ontario’s Liberal government is uniquely financing a huge cut in corporate taxes by slicing billions from direct hospital patient care. Patients in communities like North Bay are paying the price with less care,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley.
Ontario’s Auditor General cites estimates that suggest hospitals need a 5.8 per cent annual increase to meet basic cost pressures. In the past, Ontario closely followed Canada-wide spending patterns. “But Ontario is trailing since the Liberals were elected,” says Hurley. “The decline in hospital spending has accelerated since 2012, when the Liberals started cutting. Effectively budgets have been cut by 20 per cent, in real terms.”
North Bay hospital’s provincial funding gap is also exacerbated by higher costs tied to its private construction. Originally designed to hold 284 beds at a cost of $95 million, NBRHC opened as a 188 bed hospital costing $146 million, $51 million over the original target budget and significantly smaller than originally planned. Since the new hospital opened, provincial funding has not kept pace with the actual costs to deliver patient care, says Hurley. “This must change. The province has to increase base yearly funding for the hospital, so the cuts to services, beds and staff stop, or patients will continue to be adversely affected.”
As part of a community-wide campaign to secure adequate provincial funding for NBRHC, the Ontario Health Coalition has organized a “Take Back Our Hospital” demonstration on Monday (November 30) at North Bay’s Lee Park. CUPE’s new national president, Mark Hancock will speak at the rally.
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