Ottawa’s Liberal MPPs are being urged to stand up for local hospitals like Elisabeth Bruyère which is struggling with eight consecutive years of provincial budget cuts and a change in the funding formula which ramps down funding. Brian Grant, president of CUPE 4540 today said, the “intense scrutiny” on the hospital’s Behavioural Services Unit by the area Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), is “micromanagement and unwarranted under a provincial funding regime that’s cut Bruyère’s budget by 20 per cent (in real terms) over the last four years alone.”
For Bruyère too low provincial funding has resulted in a deficit of $2.4 million in 2015 and a “spiral of care, service and bed cuts over the last few years,” said Grant.
According to the latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), provincial and territorial governments outside of Ontario spend $353.96 more per person on hospitals than Ontario does. That is a whopping 25.3 per cent more than Ontario. That is up 2 per cent from the 23.3 per cent gap in the previous year. Ten years ago, in 2005-2006 the gap was only 4.3 per cent.
This gap, of course, has significant consequences for local communities and hospitals like Bruyère that are starved of operating revenue, said Michael Hurley the president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). “Ontario hospitals were already the most efficient hospitals in the country with the fewest beds and staff and the shortest lengths of stay going into the budget freeze.”
Average Ontario hospital funding for the population the size of Ottawa in 2005-2006 would have been about $42.17 million less than average funding for the same population outside of Ontario.
But by 2015-2016 the funding shortfall for a population the size of the City of Ottawa (for a population of 883,391) would have exploded to $312.69 million.
Hospitals need a 4.5 per cent increase in funding each year to keep pace with the costs of drugs and medical technologies, which are rising faster than the general rate of inflation.
“Instead of encouraging the LHINs to make examples of hospitals, as is happening with Bruyère, we think it best for the Liberal government to reverse the deep cuts it has made in hospital care and restore their budgets. We are asking Ottawa Liberal cabinet ministers Meilleur, Chiarelli and Nasqvi to stand up for their community hospitals.”