A general increase of 3.1 percent was proposed for hospitals in the last budget. On average hospitals received about 2 percent from the provincial government.
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the union that represents Kingston hospitals, say lthe funding is well below average locally.
“There was a funding announcement in May for KGH and Hotel Dieu. We’ve looked at the numbers. The millions that were announced amount to 1.4 percent of their total budgets or 1.86 for their Ministry of Health Funding. So under 2 percent,” Michael Hurley, President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospitals Union.
“This won’t be swept under the carpet. We are not going to go away. We are not going to get relaxed with it. We are here to fight,” said Mike Rodrigues, President of CUPE 1974.
Local members say hospitals need a funding increase of least 5 percent and have been lobbying for it for the last year. At minimum they want to be at par with the rest of Ontario hospitals.
CUPE members say hospital under funding at Hotel Dieu or KGH could lead to cuts to care, beds and staff. They fear that could spiral into overstretched and exhausted staff and increasingly sicker patients without enough room to be properly cared for.
“The austerity period really hurt the hospital as a whole. There’s been lots of cuts. Workloads have increased. People have been asked to do much more with much less. People are wearing down, they’re breaking down. You’re stressed out coming to work,” said Rodrigues.
But not everyone feels the same way.
“We really feel that we’re in a good place financially right now,” said Silvie Crawford, the Executive Vice President at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
According to Crawford, KHSC received over 14 million dollars in funding in 2017. She says that adds up to an increase of 2 percent.
“We not only have been able to keep our base services, we’ve been able to increase our services. So we have new programs that are starting,” admits Crawford.
Local MPP Sophie Kiwala says the extra funding will ensure the best access to patient care.
“Is there anybody in this province who doesn’t say it’s not enough… it should be more. The need for service will always go up,” said Kiwala.
CUPE members say it’s not enough and they will continue to push for what they feel is a fair hospital funding model.