Two local hospitals in Waterloo Region are going to see a $9-million funding increase from the Ontario government.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and Kitchener-South Hespeler MPP Amy Fee last week announced $9,156,400 will be divided between Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital to help with current and future demands for regular service. Grand River will receive $5,549,000 – an increase of 2.3 per cent over last year – while St. Mary’s will receive $3,607,400 – an increase of 2.6 per cent.
This funding comes from an overall $3.3-billion increase for the health sector that was put into the government’s “mini budget” in April. Of that, $925 million was set aside for hospitals.
Harris says this was done because there has been added pressure on the hospital system to cope with the assistance that has been provided to the long-term care facilities across the province.
“Part of this funding does go to the fact that we know that’s there’s going to be a little bit of extra burden on the hospital team now that they’re going to be taking some of that responsibility on (working with long-term care homes),” said Harris.
The funding will be used by the hospitals “as they see fit” and is not earmarked for any particular projects. In a statement released on the day the funding was announced, Ron Gagnon, CEO of Grand River Hospital says they plan to use it to ensure they have the equipment, staff and resources needed to continue providing care.
“Grand River Hospital appreciates the increase in funding we will receive this year from the provincial government. This funding will go toward helping us ensure we have the equipment, staff and resources we need to uphold our commitment to the community to provide timely, equitable care,” said Gagnon.“Especially during times like these, we are reminded of the importance of appropriately-funded hospitals that allow us to serve our community and provide excellent care. We look forward to continuing to work with the government to plan for the care and resources our community needs today and future needs.”
St. Mary’s General Hospital president Lee Fairclough also welcomed the increase, saying it will go towards ensuring they are able to continue to provide care for those in the region and it comes at a good time as the hospital faces “increasing pressure for service given the rapid growth in the region.”
Harris said he would not be surprised if there is more funding coming to the hospital system, though nothing is planned for this time. There was, however, $75 million put into the spring “mini budget” which was committed to supply personal protective equipment to frontline staff.
There is also $50 million put aside for the “Working Together Fund” that helps Ontario businesses and the province become self reliant on manufacturing PPE here in the province so we’re not reliant on foreign supply chains.
Maintaining supplies of PPE proved challenging right from the beginning of the pandemic, as jurisdictions around the globe competed for a relatively small supply.
Harris said the government is listening to the public’s concerns, determining what needs have yet to be met. Residents with questions or issues are encouraged to contact his office, even if it’s not a provincial matter.