There is little question that a provincial freeze in base hospital operating funding is motivating the present shedding of staff positions and services across the province.
Hospitals are required to balance their budgets by law, but Local Health Integration Networks regularly extend exemptions conditional on the hospital following an improvement plan worked out between the LHIN and the hospital.
Hospital CEOs and LHIN officials are usually reluctant to admit that significant budget cuts will impact service delivery, even if the impact is obvious in examples where hundreds of staff positions are lost (ie. Peterborough Regional). That’s because significant changes in service delivery should be treated as an integration decision, a 60-day process that puts on the onus on the service provider(s) to make a case for change in delivery to the LHIN. That case usually includes evidence of community consultation.
With the latest round of hospital cuts the Health Minister and Premier are suggesting what is taking place is not belt tightening, but restructuring.
If that is the case, then why not have the LHINs treat these changes as integration decisions where all the facts are put on the table and the community is consulted?