Province gives Ottawa hospitals $14.5M for infrastructure upgrades
Ontario is spending $14.5 million this year to help Ottawa hospitals upgrade and repair their infrastructure, provincial health minister Christine Elliott announced Wednesday.
Eight hospitals in the Ottawa area are being allocated a little over eight per cent of the $175 million Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund in 2019-20, which is being divvied up among 131 hospitals province-wide. Funding letters went out late last month.
Elliott told this newspaper the funding will “help hospitals to be able to deal with some of these larger projects that they are not able to deal with through their annual budgets because they are big investitures.” From heating and air conditioning upgrades to hospital roof replacement, the money can be used to address health and safety hazards, ensure infrastructure is up to code and maintain assets at risk of breaking down.
Locally, The Ottawa Hospital gets the largest chunk of change with $7.4 million. Bruyère Continuing Care, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Queensway Carleton, Almonte General, the Montfort Hospital, Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute receive the rest of the funding, totalling another $7.1 million.
Launched in 1999, the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund has been worth $175 million since 2016-17, and provides for approximately 1,000 Ontario hospital projects ever year. Rather than infrastructure expansion, this particular fund is about keeping what already exists in modern, working order.
“I would say basically, that it’s a question of urgency of need,” said Elliott. “We don’t want hospitals to have to close off any parts of the hospitals because of a lack of infrastructure funding, so this helps us make sure that we keep what we have ready to serve patients both now and in the future.”
The province also announced a change to its hospital naming directive, designed to make it easier for hospitals to thank philanthropic donors by taking on new corporate or business names.
Previously, the minister of health had to sign off on a hospital’s adoption of a new name. Now, that won’t be necessary – though hospitals are being provided a list of provincial expectations, including community consultation on a proposed name.
“We are confident that the hospitals can make the right decision in that respect,” said Elliott.