The province needs to assist Metropolis Corridor fund London Hospital’s $Three billion grasp plan

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The London Health Sciences Center will ask City Hall to pay a significant part of the $300m needed locally to cover the cost of a massive healthcare restructuring for the hospital, and St Joseph’s Health Care could help not far behind his own demand .

Publication date:

November 28, 20225 days ago5 minutes read Victoria Hospital in London.

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The London Health Sciences Center will ask City Hall to pay a significant part of the $300m needed locally to cover the cost of a massive healthcare restructuring for the hospital, and St Joseph’s Health Care could help not far behind his own demand .

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The Ontario government is funding a “master plan” document for hospitals, asking them to envision how hospitals will deliver patient care for several decades. She is also asking for 10 percent of restructuring costs to be borne by “partners” such as hospital foundations and municipalities that use her services.

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LHSC envisages a $3 billion restructuring, which puts the cost to these partners at $300 million, which London taxpayers are being asked to cover. The hospital does not yet know how much the city hall will pay. But that has raised fears that the Ontario government is downloading health care costs, a provincial responsibility, onto city taxpayers, city and provincial politicians said.

“I see this as a download. Health care is a provincial matter, we plan the communities and then they download the upfront costs,” Coun said. Elizabeth Peloza, who is also the council’s budget chief.

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City Hall is already raising money for education, ambulance and police costs, and this will increase the tax burden and lead to tax increases, she said. “We already have problems with people who can afford housing. Part of my concern is that the hospital will welcome people from all over the area and the city’s taxpayers will foot the bill for them.”

Elizabeth Peloza, Councilwoman for Ward 12 (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press) Elizabeth Peloza, Councilwoman for Ward 12 (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

Peloza said she also fears the move is a move toward the Ontario government’s privatization of some health services, as it increases the burden on city taxpayers, who fund local government through property taxes.

“I would just tell the province to use their surplus ($2.1 billion) before they increase our taxes,” she said.

Middlesex County Warden Alison Warwick is also concerned about the download but is willing to speak to LHSC about bearing some of the costs as the hospital serves her communities. She has also seen the impact of emergency wait times on emergency services in the area.

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“I’m not for secret downloading. We’ve been working with LHSC and St. Joe’s to look for solutions to anything that takes pressure off healthcare systems,” she said.

Ambulances have to wait in emergency rooms to treat patients, which means they can be out of action for hours.

The Ontario Department of Health has provided LHSC with a $5 million envelope for the master plan study and St. Joseph’s has received $2.5 million for its study. St. Joseph’s has not yet forecast what its restructuring may cost and what it may charge the city’s taxpayers.

Although new construction, renovations and expansions will be part of LHSC’s $3 billion plan, it’s also about determining what services are needed and how they can be delivered, said Jackie Schleifer Taylor, LHSC chief executive.

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“We are working with the Department of Health to look ahead 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and plan for the world-class healthcare system that London deserves,” she said. “For large rehabilitation projects, 10 percent of the cost is expected to be met by local funds, including the communities LHSC serves and the foundation.

“This is a $3 billion investment that we will ask the government to fund. Ideally, some aspects of the master plan can be implemented in as little as five years, others gradually over a period of up to 30 years.”

City Hall has held talks with LHSC about the master plan, but it’s too early to know what the impact will be or how much the city will pay, London Mayor Josh Morgan said. The city already pays for some emergency and healthcare services, so it makes sense to contribute, he added.

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“There is good cooperation here. We participate in the master plan process. Healthcare challenges are affecting city services. We are ready to participate in the planning process,” Morgan said.

The London Health Sciences Foundation has over $123 million in cash and investments, up from just over $117 million last year. The foundation, the hospital’s fundraising arm, will support the master plan, said Jon Munn, the foundation’s director of marketing and communications.

While the foundation’s fundraising should be for technology and equipment in hospitals, he said it knows the master plan will fund brick-and-mortar construction.

“The Foundation supports any direction that helps improve care. The Foundation has always been committed to improving hospitals and their services,” Munn said. “We will support wherever we can.”

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LHSC plans to submit its proposal from the master plan in July, and approval may take up to a year and a half, said Schleifer Taylor. St. Joseph’s will begin work in the spring with a goal of completion in 2024.

Terence Kernaghan, NDP MPP for London North Centre, also fears downloading is a step towards healthcare privatisation.

“This is another example of the province downloading its responsibility. It puts financial pressure on communities that are struggling,” he said. “They refuse to say they won’t privatize healthcare. It’s deeply concerning. They create a crisis so they can look at privatization.”

Terence Kernaghan, London North Center MPP.  (Photo by Mike Hensen/London Free Press) Terence Kernaghan, London North Center MPP. (Photo by Mike Hensen/London Free Press)

Part of the master plan’s research includes spending $400,000 to send a dozen officials traveling to countries as far-flung as Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Texas and British Columbia to learn best healthcare practices, he said Grinder Taylor.

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These trips have been delayed because the hospital had to cancel pediatric surgery due to a lack of beds. But the money for the junkets won’t come from operating budgets or endowment dollars, said Schleifer Taylor.

“Our total planning grant is $5 million and covers everything from research to plant design. The research results collected from all site visits will cost a total of approximately US$400,000,” she said.

In addition to travel, LHSC is hiring consultants to advise and consult their staff on the master plan. Schleifer Taylor said she expects the trips to prove helpful with “process planning, nurturing and governance. We will gain insights into innovative supply systems.”

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