New Brunswick

Health minister refutes any funding disparity between Horizon, Vitalité

Health Minister Victor Boudreau is disputing comments by the president of Horizon Health about a funding imbalance between the province’s two health authorities.

Horizon CEO John McGarry says he needs funding for improvements to Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital

Health Minister Victor Boudreau says there is no funding imbalance between the province's two health networks.

John McGarry, president and chief executive officer of the Horizon Health Network, said he is concerned about the lack of funds his health authority is receiving.
​Boudreau was responding to comments made by Horizon Health Network president and CEO John McGarry, who claims the Vitalité Health Network has received $80 million in project funding over the past four years, while Horizon has received roughly $24 million during the same period.

McGarry is particularly concerned about the lack of funding this year to continue the major development project at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton.

But Boudreau says the provincial government looks at priorities, not groups, when deciding where to spend money.

"You have to look at the overall health-care system in the province. And if you look back the last 10 years, for example, and McGarry picked the last four years, but if you look back at the last 10 years, the split is about two to one in favour of Horizon," he said.

"You can't pick one of these projects, or a few of these projects in isolation. Now, we're at a point in the system where, it just so happens, that two larger projects are ready to move forward are the Chaleur Hospital in Bathurst and the George Dumont Hospital in Moncton."

Boudreau says given the province's financial situation, hard decisions have to be made.

But that doesn't mean the Chalmers project is off the table, he stressed. It will come up again in next year's capital budget, he said.

McGarry, who released Horizon's five-year strategic plan on Thursday, told CBC News his concerns about being able to pay for some key projects led him to do an analysis of funding.

I saw that over the past four years Horizon has probably not done as well as I think they should.- John McGarry, CEO of Horizon Health

"When we're two-thirds of the system, I would expect that our projects would get some priority within those kind of allocations. And again, I'm not arguing that they haven't in Vitalité very worthwhile projects," McGarry said.

"But the [Dr. Everett] Chalmers [Hospital in Fredericton], it really is desperately in need of development and we need to keep this momentum going. So I would like to have some funds really allotted for that in the year that starts on April 1."

McGarry said he would like the provincial government to reconsider the allocation of money earmarked for infrastructure projects so that hospital upgrades can move ahead.

The Gallant government’s first capital budget was announced in December and it outlined $597.1 million in infrastructure spending.

The Department of Health received $60.2 million for capital in 2015-16.

Major capital projects will use up over half of that budget. The provincial government will spend $33.9 million on projects, such as the construction of the Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre, a provincial mental health treatment centre for youth and the addition of a surgical suite at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton.

When the finance minister released this year's capital budget, McGarry said he started running the numbers on how much funding each health authority had received in recent years.

"We had expected that we would see a progression of the development project of the Chalmers hospital in the capital budget. And it wasn't there and that's what concerned me," he said.

"So I just started doing an analysis and I saw that over the past four years Horizon has probably not done as well as I think they should."

New Brunswick has two regional health authorities and Horizon Health is the largest of the two.

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