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Ontario Health Coalition Head Says Province Deliberately Underfunding Hospitals

Posted: March 31, 2016

(March 31, 2016)

By: AM 980

The Ontario Health Coalition is not surprised by another round of hospital cuts in London, saying the province is to blame for a lack of funding.

St. Joseph’s Health Care announced Wednesday that the Board of Directors had approved a budget plan for 2016-17 that includes eliminating 60 positions, mostly through attrition, to help close a $17-million gap in their operating budget.

St. Joe’s is also removing 12 transitional care beds from Parkwood this fall since provincial funding for that program has run out.

Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition Natalie Mehra believes this is all part of the government’s plan.

“The government doesn’t say it out loud because it would be deeply, deeply unpopular, but they’re trying to force the dismantling of our community public hospitals. I’m in Windsor today, for example, where they’re cutting 169 RNs. In Wallaceburg, they’re facing the entire closure of the local hospital. Chatham has seen major cuts. Everywhere across Ontario, people’s community hospitals are being gutted.”

Mehra adds that Ontario sits only after Chile and Mexico in having the lowest level of hospital beds in the developed world. She says in Ontario, there have been nine years in a row when funding rates are less than the rate of inflation.

“So that means in what economists call ‘real dollar terms’ there have been cuts. There have been cuts for nine years in a row, that’s inflation adjusted dollars. What that means, if your funding does not keep pace even with basic inflation never mind population growth and aging, then you have no choice but to cut staff and services and beds.”

Hospitals are mandated to balance their budgets, but St. Joe’s has submitted a $5.9 million deficit deficit in its budget plan and is hoping to get more funding from the South West Local Health Integration Network and Ministry of Health.

If the request fails, St. Joe’s may have to dip into its reserves for a second-straight year.

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