As of March 31, Ottawa hospitals will no longer be exempt from development charges, but the city has pledged to work with health-care officials to find other ways to help cover construction costs.
A group of the city’s top hospital executives, led by Champlain LHIN CEO Dr. Robert Cushman, descended on the city’s finance committee meeting yesterday, urging councillors to at the very least delay the plan to stop reimbursing the charges.
He said they need more time to come up with a plan to recoup the funds they would have saved by not paying those charges.
“The March 31 deadline scares me,” Cushman said. “I think we need to better understand what the issues are, and if there is a compromise we can work out.”
Hospitals had been essentially exempt from development charges since 2002. To date hospitals have saved nearly $25 million in fees and land charges.
Without those savings from the city, Gérald Savoie, chief executive with the Montfort Hospital, said the burden would be shifted onto the citizens to raise more funds to cover construction costs.
“From a fundraising point of view, this is the sort of situation that could cripple us,” he said. “This recommendation is shortsighted from a city point of view and we will regret this day if we go forward.”
The committee voted to stick to the March 31 deadline, but they agreed to form a special committee composed of provincial, city and hospital officials to examine the impacts of the decision and find other funding solutions.
City treasurer Marian Simulik said they could still go back and retroactively refund the charge if they wanted to reverse the decision when the special committee reports in September.
“The date will not be set in stone today,” she said. “It’s a council policy and council can change its policy.”