Cornwall hospital funding ‘up in the air’ after Ontario budget

Cornwall Community Hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie speaks to an audience during the opening Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 for the chemotherapy unit. Despatie says the hospital won't know for another couple weeks what a proposed Ontario funding increase to hospitals will do to their bottom line. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The head of Cornwall’s hospital is optimistic about their provincial transfer payments despite not known how much it will be receiving.

The Ontario government announced last week in the budget that base funding for hospitals would increase $345 million or about one per cent to each hospital’s budget.

Cornwall Community Hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie said they heard from the Ontario Hospital Association about the increase but exactly how much money will be coming is not known.

“We don’t have any verification at this point. It could be up to a couple of weeks before we really know what that translates into in terms of revenue to our hospital,” Despatie told CNW Friday, following the opening of the chemotherapy unit.

Despatie said there are adjustments being made to the funding formula for hospitals. “So that as well could impact us positively or negatively so what it really means for funding for next year, beginning in April (2016), is very much up in the air,” the Despatie said.

Since 2012, hospitals have been funded based on how many patients they look after, the services they deliver, the quality of those services and the population they serve, according to the Ministry of Health.

Based on the last available service agreement between the Champlain Local Health Integration Network and CCH, the hospital’s base funding is around $70.6 million of its $153.4 million budget.

After four years of no inflationary increase to their base funding, even word of an increase is good news. “When we consider zero per cent over the last four years, we’re pretty excited to hear about the one (per cent),” she said.

With the redevelopment of the hospital complete and the chemo unit able to take patients starting today (Monday), Despatie didn’t anticipate accessing the $12 billion in the Ontario budget over 10 years for major hospital projects.

Local MPP Jim McDonell has been critical of the budget increase to hospitals, saying any gain is being nullified by decreases in gaming revenue to hospitals and the provincial freeze on hospital parking fees.

McDonell said the last year’s budget (2015) also cuts millions from health, physicians’ services and seniors’ physiotherapy.