The Ontario government has announced an investment of $15 million to redevelop the aging and undersized emergency department at Guelph General Hospital.
The announcement was made on Monday, just days ahead of the official start of the 2022 Ontario election campaign.
“With Guelph being one of the fastest-growing cities in the province, there’s a need to grow the department,” said hospital president and CEO Marianne Walker.
“We are so grateful for this funding as this first phase will expand our undersized emergency department. Once complete, it will help improve the health and well-being of our patients needing mental health and addiction services.”
The hospital’s plan to renovate has been in the works for quite some time and the request for funding goes back at least three years.
In 2019, the hospital announced plans to address three urgent priorities: expanding the emergency department, renovating its special care nursery and purchasing new equipment.
The hospital said the urgent priorities would cost about $45 million and added that the Ministry of Health was expected to chip in $15 million to cover 90 per cent of the renovation costs.
Since then, it has raised $37.5 million as part of its Together, We Care campaign, aimed at addressing the urgent needs.
Now, three years later, Health Minister Christine Elliott has given the funding request the green light with a month to go before the election.
“Redeveloping the emergency department at Guelph General Hospital is a key part of our government’s plan to stay open and build a stronger, more resilient health care system with the capacity to ensure all Ontarians are fully supported on their journey to wellness,” Elliott said in a news release.
“This investment will enhance emergency services, including emergency mental health services, so that patients have timely access to high-quality care when they need it the most.”
A hospital spokesperson said the funding from the provincial government was delayed due to the pandemic and it’s their understanding that the funding is guaranteed regardless of which party is in power.
The emergency department was designed to service about 20,000 visitors per year but that number has risen to 60,000 per year with local demand expected to increase.
Shovels are expected to be in the ground by 2023 and one of the key elements is space for emergency mental health and addiction services.
Ontario Green Party Leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner said the funding is a huge win for the city.
“This much-needed funding will help Guelph General Hospital continue its quality, efficient and effective administration and patient care. This funding announcement is a credit to the team at Guelph General who put forward a compelling case for expansion,” he said.
“I’ve been pushing for this funding for years. It’s been a core issue for me at Queen’s Park ever since I was elected MPP for Guelph in 2018, and it’s good news that the funding has finally come.”