The Ontario government is building critical health-care capacity in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties through investments of close to $14 million in Quinte Health Care (QHC) hospitals.
Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, and Daryl Kramp, MPP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington, announced June 10th that the Province is providing a 6.1-per-cent increase in base operating funding for QHC. That total reflects the annualization of a $5-million increase announced in 2019-2020 as part of a top-up fund to support small- and medium-sized hospitals, plus an additional investment of $4,661,555 in 2020-2021.
Further, the government will invest $4.3 million in one-time capital funding to increase capacity in Belleville General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit to 18 beds from the current 14. Expansion construction is to begin this summer.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having modern, functional hospital facilities with sufficient capacity to meet any eventuality,” said Smith. “Today, we’re delivering on our promise to rebuild our health-care system with tangible commitments to support the front lines of care.”
Added Kramp: “These are extraordinary times that demand extraordinary measures. That is why our government is investing millions in hospitals to ensure their ongoing readiness. This includes funding for up to 1,000 acute care beds, 500 critical care beds, and assessment centres. Our goal is clear. We are going to protect the health of Ontarians.”
Stuart Wright, the Chairman of QHC’s board of directors, had long advocated for the Province to address funding inequities affecting multi-site hospitals. He expressed satisfaction the government has listened.
“MPPs Todd Smith and Daryl Kramp made a commitment last October that the one-time funding dollars announced at that time would be a bridge that leads to the eventual right-sizing of QHC’s annual base funding,” Wright said. “Today, our local MPP partners have fulfilled that commitment, putting our hospital funding levels on par with other hospitals in Ontario. Thank you for seeing the inequity and taking the actions needed to correct this long-standing challenge.”
Mary Clare Egberts, QHC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, added the Intensive Care Unit upgrade will benefit patients not just from Belleville, but across the region.
“I am exceedingly grateful for the support needed from the province to move ahead with expanding the regional Intensive Care Unit, located at Belleville General Hospital. Expanding the unit is integral to meeting the increased patient care needs of the sickest patients in the areas served by all four QHC hospitals. This will allow our team of dedicated staff and physicians the appropriate space required for extending safe, quality patient care for acutely ill patients.”
Both announcements are reflective of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, released March 25. At that time, the government committed to an additional $935 million in new investments for Ontario hospitals. Some $594 million will support hospitals in meeting current and future demand for regular services – a three-per-cent increase from 2019-2020. An additional $341 million was committed to ongoing readiness to treat an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. The commitment also provides stable, equitable funding.
“We have listened to patients, frontline staff and key stakeholders to determine how we can fix historical inequities to provide financial stability and relief to hospitals, regardless of their size,” said Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott.