MHC official anticipates provincial announcement will include local hospitals

LITTLE CURRENT – An official with Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) anticipates that the two-site hospital will receive funding announced by the provincial government on Monday to help meet the pandemic crunch on revenues.

The Ontario government is providing more than $1.2 billion to Ontario’s public hospitals to help the facilities recover from financial pressures created and worsened by COVID-19. 

“That sounds like a lot of money,” stated Tim Vine, vice-president of corporate services and chief financial officer with the MHC. “The MHC has been receiving funding from the ministry towards COVID-19 expenses.”

Mr. Vine explained, however, “we have had decreases in our revenues, with less patient co-payment and out of province and country payments (with the pandemic) because we usually have a lot of tourist visitors, and summer folks that have places on the Island that they stay in. I would be surprised if the MHC is not included in the funding.”

“Hospitals have been at the centre of the pandemic from day one providing excellent care for our sick and vulnerable, and responding to the various outbreaks without hesitation,” said Premier Doug Ford in a release. “Clearly, this additional care comes at a cost, so as a government we must step up and support them. We need to ensure that our hospitals remain viable and are there for people long after COVID-19 has been beaten.”

The funding will include $696.6 million that will help cover the significant working funds deficits qualifying public hospitals have accumulated, with a focus on small and medium sized hospitals, as well as specialty and rehabilitation hospitals that carry a large fiscal strain due to their unique situations and historical funding challenges.

The province said all Ontario hospitals have felt the financial pressure of the pandemic through direct costs as well as through the loss of other forms of revenue such as co-payments for private rooms and the reduction of retail services, all of which contribute to patient care and support clinical services.

The province has outlined that $572.3 million is being provided to reimburse hospitals for these losses.

“Ontario’s hospitals have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and our government is using every tool at our disposal to support them during these unprecedented times,” said health minister and deputy premier Christine Elliott in the release. “This funding will ensure Ontario’s hospitals can continue to provide high-quality care to all Ontarians as we work together to stop the spread of this virus.” 

The pandemic has put pressure on the health care sector and amplified pre-existing problems. Ontario currently spends more on Ontario’s public hospitals than it receives in federal funding. The Ontario government will continue to work in collaboration with the federal government, and with other provinces and territories, to ensure the Canada health transfer is increased and Ontarians get the quality health care they deserve.

“Our priority since the start of the pandemic has been clear-protecting people’s health. That means ensuring hospitals and the health care system have the capacity they need to care for people,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of finance and president of the treasury board. “Supporting hospitals is part of our plan to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe, during COVID-19 and beyond.”

The province also highlighted the fact the 2021 Ontario budget was to be released on March 24, saying the government focus will be on protecting people’s health, with a plan to defeat COVID-19 and support people and jobs.