Stony Plain hospital faces $450,000 budget cut
Cuts could mean longer wait times, fewer services
A hospital west of Edmonton is set lose $450,000 in funding this year, CBC News has learned.
The WestView Health Centre in Stony Plain is facing a 1.9 per cent cut to its operating budget in the upcoming fiscal year, according to an internal email obtained by CBC News.
"This Tuesday the site administration/management team was informed of a permanent 1.9% reduction to the 13/14 budget," read the email from Carol Milner, a program manager at WestView Health.
"This means we had to submit our 1.9% reduction which is approximately $450,000 for the site. We have submitted our strategies and await senior executive approval of our submission."
Stony Plain Mayor William Choy said that more people are using WestView Health Centre because of the specialized services it offers, which include acute care, continuing care, a 24-hour emergency room, diagnostic imaging, lab services and day surgery.
Choy warned that cutbacks could lead to increased wait times and fewer services. He said that long waits in the hospital's emergency room is already a problem that forces many patients to head to facilities in nearby Devon and Edmonton instead.
"People are choosing to live outside the community or going to different hospitals which adds a whole bunch of different problems to the province," Choy said.
The cutbacks conflict with a five-year plan, announced by Premier Ed Stelmach’s Tory government in 2010, that promised stable health care funding within the province.
In fact, province-wide funding was supposed to go up this year by 4.5 per cent, an increase that Alberta Health Services says will no longer be coming.
"Our Board Chair has made it clear publicly that we do not expect a 4.5 per cent budget increase for the 13/14 budget year. There have been no decisions on specific budgets," said Kerry Williamson, an AHS spokesperson.
Choy said that he hopes these budget cuts for health care facilties are temporary.
"As our government said that health care was one of the prime priorities, I'm surprised they’re asking for a two per cent cut," said Choy. "We understand that this hopefully should be a short-term problem."