2014 budget: If your hospital is not already on the rebuild list, it won’t be

When Charles Sousa unwraps his Ontario budget on Thursday there likely won’t be any new money for expanding hospital infrastructure.

Coming out of the Harris era, the McGuinty/Wynne government faced a considerable backlog of infrastructure needs, including updates to many Ontario hospitals.

To date there have been more than 100 major hospital infrastructure projects – or a project for two out of every three hospital corporations in the province. About a third of these projects have been costly long-term public-private partnerships where the private sector is responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance.

Paul Rosebush, CEO of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre told Bayshore Broadcasting that the economic forecast has raised some red flags that essentially mean that if you are not on the existing list for a rebuild, you won’t be.

The Lake Huron community of Kincardine was counting on a replacement for their local hospital at a cost of $105 million. To modernize Rosebush says they may instead renovate rather than rebuild.

If Rosebush is correct, that’s likely not good news for The Scarborough Hospital where CEO Robert Biron has been repeating the mantra that he has the oldest operating rooms in the province and that long term maintenance expenses will come close to matching the cost of building a newer more efficient hospital.

The sheer number of hospital capital projects during the Liberal term in office makes us wonder how Scarborough ever got left out, especially when the area is served by several government MPPs who are experiencing declining margins of victory at the ballot box.

Despite the work by Biron and Rouge CEO Rik Ganderton, the infrastructure talk in Scarborough still focuses on transit, not health care. That has left the two CEOs working on co-operative projects to try to balance their budgets amid a freeze on base provincial funding.

It also raises the question of how long the government has known this and whether they were just stringing the two CEOs along by encouraging talk of as many as two new hospitals for the region.

Many other communities looking to replace aging hospital infrastructure may also be disappointed on Thursday.

Watch for our health care analysis of the 2014 budget late on Thursday.

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