DCN ARCHIVES

September 15, 2004

Ontario hospitals score $60M for upgrades, structural repairs

BY GRANT CAMERON

STAFF WRITER

Hospitals in Ontario will soon receive a total of $60 million for upgrades, renovations and structural repairs—more than three times the amount spent in 2003.

The announcement was made last week by George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

He said the provincial government wants to make sure that hospital buildings remain in top condition for patients.

“Our government recognizes that patients can only receive high quality care if hospital facilities are safe and in good repair,” Smitherman said.

“This investment will help every hospital in the province keep pace with needed upgrades so they can offer the very best care to Ontarians.”

The money will be used for:

• Renovations to improve the condition and efficiency of clinical spaces, such as upgrading electrical systems;

• Structural repairs, including roof replacement and removing mould and hazardous materials;

• Upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and replacing windows; and

• Improvements to comply with safety standards and building code requirements, such as upgrading fire alarm systems and backup generators.

The money is coming from the provincial Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund (HIRF).

The money was allocated using a new method that will provide hospitals with predictable year-to-year funding for renewal projects and reduce administrative overhead. Earlier this year, the Health Capital Planning Review, commissioned by the government and chaired by Michael Decter, supported simplifying the HIRF program.

A recent Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) policy paper, Capital Planning and Investment in Ontario’s Hospitals, also supported improvements to the HIRF.

“The changes to the HIRF program mean a more efficient approach to funding minor capital projects that will help hospitals complete small renovations and upgrades in a more timely manner,” said Decter, who is also chair of the Health Council of Canada.

“The streamlined program will help hospitals ensure that their facilities are always in good repair.”

Tony Dagnone, chair of the board of the OHA, said the organization is pleased the government has taken steps to improve the infrastructure renewal program.

“This new funding model will assist hospitals in quickly addressing infrastructure issues, providing immediate benefit to the patients who use that facility.”

In July, the province announced an additional $469.5 million in operating funds for Ontario’s hospitals—an increase of 4.3 per cent over last year. Hospitals will receive a total of $11.3 billion in operating funding in 2004/05.

Health Minister Smitherman said the government is strengthening all areas of Ontario’s hospitals so that they can better serve patients.

“We’re also making record investments in community services including home care and long-term care to take pressure off hospitals so that Ontarians can receive care in their communities and homes, rather than queuing up in emergency waiting rooms.”

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