In a move to help hospitals recover revenues lost during the covid pandemic, the Ontario Government has allocated $572.3 million to hospitals across Ontario to help address the fiscal challenges faced by many medical facilities. Kemptville District Hospital [KDH] is getting $353,213.00 from the fund, while other local hospitals, Brockville General and Perth & Smiths Falls District, will also receive support.
Frank Vassallo, CEO & Board Secretary Kemptville District Hospital, welcomed the funding announcement. “The Kemptville District Hospital (KDH) is very grateful to Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minster of Health for this funding that recognizes and addresses the financial pressures related to the pandemic. This funding will allow KDH to continue to support our front line staff and physicians who deliver much needed and deserved care to the communities we are privileged to serve. I also want to thank MPP Steve Clark for his unwavering support of our hospital. His continued advocacy on our behalf means so much to us and the people we serve.”
In one of many recent funding announcements made by the local MPP, Steve Clark stated: “Our government continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we know that hospitals, and hospital staff, are on the front lines of this effort. “We are proud to support Ontario hospitals so that they can continue to provide the care Ontarians need and deserve, today and in the future.”
This funding is part of the province’s overall investment of over $1.2 billion to help hospitals recover from financial pressures created and worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals have felt financial challenges not only through direct costs, but also through the loss of other forms of revenue such as co-payments for private rooms and the reduction of retail services, all of which contribute to patient care and support clinical services.“Ontario’s hospitals have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and our government is using every tool at our disposal to ensure that they are supported,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This funding will help ease the financial pressure on hospitals so that they can continue to provide high-quality care and ensure our health care system is prepared to respond to any scenario.”
However, the funding announcement came at a time when Steve Clark is facing protests outside his office in Brockville by area health care workers. At the rally in March protesting the government’s 1% wage cap that, with rising inflation, hits the province’s “pandemic heroines” with a 4% real wage cut in 2021 and more than a 4% cut again in 2022, area health care workers asked him to repeal Bill 124 and ‘stand with them, not against them’. It was one of a series of similar protests outside the office of Ontario PC MPP’s scheduled for March.
The protest was organised by CUPE, which, in Ontario, represents nearly 90,000 health care workers. 90% of RPNs and personal support workers (PSWs) working in the health system are women. 65% of the people who clean and disinfect our hospitals and 75% of respiratory therapists are women. Almost all the ward clerks and other administrative workers are female.
CUPE issued a statement in which they noted that: “Since March 1, 1,600 health care workers have contracted COVID-19 at work, one of the highest rates of infection during the pandemic. CUPE believes this would not be happening if health care workers were adequately protected and is bargaining along with SEIU Healthcare for increased access to N95 masks.”
Dave Verch, a registered practical nurse (RPN) and Eastern Ontario Vice-president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE), pointed out that: “At the root of it, Bill 124 is sexist and discriminatory legislation. It doesn’t cover any other emergency personnel, like paramedics, police, and fire – which tend to be male dominated. It must go or many more nurses, PSWs and other staff will leave their jobs at hospitals and long-term care homes which are already struggling with staff shortages.”