Kenora's hospital board is breathing a sigh of relief. A $1.4 million grant from the province has helped to bring a projected balance to the hospital's budget this year.
Lake of the Woods District Hospital Vice-president, Cindy Gasparini, spoke about the funding, and what a projected balanced budget means to the hospital.
“We're predicting a balanced budget this year for the first time in a long time. We're relieved to be seeing some financial stability in the hospital. We've been working very hard over the last couple of years to work with the Ministry so that they can understand our situation. They have listened, and it's not a one-time funding announcement. It'll be year-after-year. In addition, we did get some additional base-funding, that all hospitals across the province got. It's allowed us to be able to look at a projected balanced operating budget this year,” she said.
The hospital had been lobbying Queen's Park in recent years for an amendment in the funding formula, noting their shortfall has come from a lack of medical procedures performed, such as care for those suffering from chronic illness.
Hospital President and CEO, Mark Balcaen, spoke about the funding.
“Certainly, it has provided us with a little bit of breathing room, that we haven't been able to enjoy in the past two or three years,” he said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke about improvements to health care in the region, but noted that northwestern Ontario still needs more support.
“First, we need to deal with the facts. Since 2003, the number of physicians in the northwest region have increased by over 25 per cent. Over that same period, the population has only increased by 3.8 per cent. We're investing more in our hospitals, including a $550,000 increase to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital. We are making bigger investments than we have in the past. Now there continues to be need. We recognize that. We will work with the health providers in the region. These investments are so important to people,” she said.
In the last budget, health care accounted for about 40 per cent of spending. Ontario will spend $53.8 billion on health care this year, up from $52.2 billion last year. Spending will rise to $58.1 billion in 2019-20, according to the budget plan.