The MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka is thrilled to see local hospitals are getting a boost in funding thanks to the government of Ontario.

Back on March 25, the province released a fiscal update, “Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19”, which recognized the historic funding shortfalls for small and medium-sized hospitals.

The plan ensures continued financial stability by making the $68 million in top-up funding from 2019/20 part of the base funding for these hospitals going forward – and ensures publicly funded hospitals will receive a minimum of a 1% increase.

In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, MPP Norm Miller says in the past, hospitals have had to request these additional funds each year, and they were never guaranteed a successful outcome.

“Oftentimes, hospitals receive one-time funding, and they don’t know what’s going to happen the next year. So, you’re always trying to get that funding. This is a significant increase in funding, and most of it is annualized, so it will go on year-to-year.”

Locally, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s base funding has increased by $4,880,500, with $3,189,000 of that total becoming annualized.

West Parry Sound’s Health Centre’s base funding has been increased by $2,676,500, with $1,599,000 of that becoming annualized.

Miller feels this gives local hospitals more continuity going forward to provide the services the community relies on.

“COVID-19 has made a huge change in challenges for healthcare across the province. And it’s worth noting there will be separate COVID-19 funding as well to cover the costs that are happening because of all the special procedures and protocols in place.”

Miller notes this COVID-19 funding will be distributed at a later date based on the expenses incurred by each hospital.

In a press release, MAHC CEO Natalie Bubela says they appreciate Miller’s ongoing advocacy on this issue.

“This additional funding helps to ease MAHC’s operating pressures, and we will continue to work with the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, Ministry of Health and provincial government for incremental funding to close our operating gap.”

WPSHC CEO Donald Sanderson notes that during these uncertain times, the investment is very much appreciated.

“The arrival of COVID-19 has added significant pressure to our financial challenges,” Sanderson said. “Until a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 will continue to fundamentally change the way in which we provide care.  This will no doubt contribute to the current fiscal and operational uncertainty facing West Parry Sound Health Centre.”

This announcement is part of $935 million more in new investments for Ontario’s hospitals this year identified in Ontario’s Action Plan – with $594 million of that directed to support hospitals to meet current and future demands for regular services.

Having long advocated against the inequity of funding for medium-sized hospitals, Miller says it’s a relief to see it finally addressed.

“I’m glad that there’s more annualized funding that will help address the real health concerns of our area. Having said that, you know there are always new challenges coming forward, and you never know what the next month or year will bring, as COVID is demonstrating. So, I think we aren’t just standing pat, we are always looking at ways to improve healthcare in our area.”