Kitchener-Waterloo

Province promises millions to Waterloo region hospitals ahead of election kick-off

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives announced millions in funding for Waterloo region hospitals Tuesday, a day before the provincial election campaign is set to kick off.

PC MPP Mike Harris said money 'being allocated as we speak'

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris (right) announced millions in funding for Waterloo region hospitals Tuesday ahead of the provincial election campaign kick-off. (Twitter)

Kitchener-Conestoga Progressive Conservative MPP Mike Harris announced millions in funding for Waterloo region hospitals Tuesday, a day before the provincial election campaign is set to kick off. 

The newly-announced cash falls into three categories: operating funds, capital funds for new hospital beds and funds for various "surgical innovation" projects. 

When asked what will happen if the PCs lose the election, Harris said the funding was "being allocated as we speak."

"The hospitals will be receiving their funding letters this week, I'm told, if they haven't gotten them already," said Harris during the announcement at Cambridge Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning.

"The money can't be taken back." 

According to Harris' office, the promised 2022-2023 operating funds include: 

  • An additional $6.8 million for Cambridge Memorial Hospital, an increase of 5.6 per cent relative to last year. 
  • An additional $8.1 million for St. Mary's General Hospital, an increase of 5.5 per cent relative to last year. 
  • An additional $7.5 million for the Grand River Hospital Corporation, an increase of three per cent relative to last year. 

The PCs also spoke to a 10-year plan to add 3,000 new hospital beds across the province. They said locally that will mean more than $81 million for 217 new patient beds in Waterloo region. 

Locally, the funding breakdown for patient beds would be: 

  • About $11.2 million for 22 new patient beds at Cambridge Memorial Hospital. 
  • About $49.4 million for 154 new patient beds at Grand River Hospital. 
  • About $20.9 million for 41 new patient beds at St. Mary's General Hospital. 

The three hospitals also received just under $3 million in "surgical innovation" funding to ramp up procedures and clear backlogs caused by the pandemic. 

Speaking at Tuesday's event, Cambridge Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Gaskin said his hospital plans to renovate space in an older wing "to improve flow-through and capacity" of the hospital's day surgery program.

"This helps us deal with the backlog of patients that are waiting for surgical procedures at Cambridge Memorial Hospital," he said. 

In a statement, Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath criticized the funding news as an "eleventh hour announcement" and said that, if elected, her government would both pay for hospital expansion and hire "tens of thousands" of nurses, PSWs and other healthcare staff. 

Funding for Guelph emergency room

Separately, the province also promised about $15 million for Guelph General Hospital. The money is intended to redevelop hospital's overstretched emergency department, according to a Thursday funding announcement. 

The first phase of the project will involve the relocation and expansion of the hospital's Emergency Mental Health Short Stay Assessment Unit from four rooms to eight rooms. 

The second phase will expand the emergency department's triage, registration and waiting room area and build a larger ambulance garage. 

During the pandemic, the hospital has been using a trailer to expand capacity of the emergency department. It's hoped that once the renovations are complete, the trailer will no longer be necessary. 

The hospital says it still has planning work to do but that construction could begin as soon as mid-to-late 2023.

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