Bandage or remedy?

Hospitals in the Ottawa region are getting $45.7 million in new funding this year, the province announced yesterday, although a city Conservative politician said that amount hardly reflects the capital’s status as Ontario’s second largest city.
Yesterday, the Liberal provincial government announced details of a $667.2-million provincial increase for local health integration networks, or LHINs, that was announced in the 2008 budget, with Ottawa region’s Champlain LHIN due for a more than six per cent increase to its base operating budgets this year.
“This is not one-time money,” said cabinet minister and Ottawa-West Nepean MPP Jim Watson. “It will go to hiring nurses and doctors and paying for the cost of operating these hospitals.”
In Champlain district, Ottawa Hospital will see a nearly $18.5-million increase, the Queensway-Carleton Hospital will get $12.4 million more, while the Montfort Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) will get $12.1 million and $822,400 more, respectively.
The remainder of the money is to be shared between other hospitals throughout the Champlain LHIN.
“This boost in funding will help us to ensure the Champlain hospital system is well placed to deliver effective and timely health care,” said Dr. Robert Cushman, CEO of the Champlain LHIN.
But Nepean-Carleton Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod said getting $45 million of a $667-million increase is another example of the Liberal government shortchanging Ottawa.
“Ottawa is the second-largest municipality in the province and a growing city,” she said. “There’s a bit of a shortfall there.”
MacLeod agreed that health-care costs are ballooning, but said the Liberals need to look into better ways of delivering care, instead of pumping more money into an inefficient system.
“When will Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Smitherman and Mr. Watson work their way out of the corner they’ve backed themselves into with their rigid approach to health care?” she said. “They had an opportunity to look for a new way of doing business.”
The new funding is intended to provide more beds, more surgeries, lower wait times for hip, knee, cataract and cardiac surgeries, as well as MRIs and cancer treatment.
“We recognized that wait times were too long. When you’re sick the last thing you want to worry about is if there is a bed for you, or a doctor,” Watson said. “This money is going to lowering wait times and cover inflationary costs.”

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