Montreal

MUHC to make $28M in cuts to make up for budget deficit

The McGill University Health Centre needs to make $28 million in cuts over the next two years to make up for a budget shortfall.

Cuts to be made over 2 years, health centre not ruling out trimming back staff

The new MUHC super hospital opened last April. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The McGill University Health Centre needs to make $28 million in cuts over the next two years to make up for a budget shortfall.

The cuts come a year after the MUHC moved into its new superhospital at the Glen site.

Richard Fahey, the MUHC's director of communications, didn't rule out cuts to staff. He said Thursday the MUHC would look first at trimming back expenses through attrition.

The MUHC will also look at ways to trim back expenses such as the renegotiation of contracts with suppliers, he said.

"There are many things that are being contemplated," he said in a phone interview.

The MUHC's annual budget is roughly $850 million.

Fahey acknowledged the shortfall comes in part from cost overruns from the move to the new superhospital. He said a drop in funding from the province also contributed to the deficit.

He said the MUHC isn't hoping for cash from the province, even though it announced a $2.2-billion surplus earlier this week.

"Our commitment is to live within our means and that's what we're doing," he said.

Hospitals not 'allowed to go over budget,' health minister says

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says the province won't provide extra cash to help out the MUHC. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Asked about the issue in Quebec City, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said the the province won't be bailing out the MUHC.

"There are no hospitals in this province, whether they are a university hospital or community hospital, that are allowed to go over the budget. It's as simple as that," he said.

Paul Thomas, head of the CSN union's MUHC division, which represents employees such as orderlies, office workers, and medical archivists, said it's too early to say if there will be job losses.

"Honestly, we're cutting to the bone now. We're at the very bottom," he said.

Paul Brunet, chair of the Council for the Protection of Patients, said that he had heard of the cuts but does not yet know how they will affect patient services.

"There will definitely be some level of impact," said Brunet.

"What surprises me is that since 2007 we were never told the MUHC would cut service so drastically." 

with files from Jaela Bernstien

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