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Ontario Hospital Association play hardball with government

By KJ Mullins     Feb 2, 2010 in Politics
The Ontario Hospital Association is telling government without funding hospitals may have to close beds. On Tuesday the Ontario Legislative Assembly was presented the pre-budget presentation by the OHA.
On Tuesday in Ottawa the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs of the Ontario Legislative Assembly was presented the budget needs of Ontario hospitals by Ontario Hospital Association's Dr. Kevin Smith and President and CEO Tom Closson.
Ontario hospital beds have decreased from 50,000 bed in 1990 to just over 30,000 beds in 2008. This decease is in spite of a population growth of almost 3 million people during the same period.
New technology has made it possible for nearly 1.2 million Ontarians to have outpatient surgeries. The average stay in hospital in 2009 was 6.7 days compared to 8.2 days in 1990.
The Ontario government funding for hospitals it he lowest of all provinces. This has resulted in a $2.5 billion efficiency dividend that the government invests in other priorities Dr. Kevin Smith, Chair of the Ontario Hospital Association’s Board of Directors, and President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. said on Tuesday to the Standing Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
Tom Closson, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association told government on Tuesday that his agency has called on the Government of Ontario to provide the hospital sector with a 2
percent increase in base operating funding in the 2010-11 fiscal year. This increase is lower than the current rate of hospitals' salary ans expense inflation Closson stated.
"To be clear: if the hospital sector receives a 2 percent increase in operating funding, the basket of services that many hospitals offer will change, and there will be changes to the hospital workforce. These changes are occurring as hospitals follow through with measures to improve their efficiency and operate within that 2 percent envelope. But, as mentioned, we believe that hospitals can make these changes while preserving the stability of the health care system.
However, the data we have seen to date strongly suggest that an increase of less than 2 percent in hospital operating funding would undercut the government’s goals with respect to reducing wait times in emergency departments, undo much of the hard-won progress made to date in reducing surgical wait times, and erode public confidence in our health care system."
Closson warned that without the increase some hospitals in Ontario will have to be eliminated. Northern Ontario faces the worse crises if the funding does not come through. With a lack of community services hospitals often play the role in the north for local health care.
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