Ottawa

Outaouais health system woefully underfunded, study shows

A new study suggests health care in the Outaouais is underfunded by more than $250 million a year when compared to similarly-sized regions of the province.

Study compared western Quebec to similarly-sized regions of Quebec

The shortage of health-care workers in the Outaouais has become an election issue in Quebec. A new study looks at how much it would cost to fix the problem. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

A new study suggests health care in the Outaouais is underfunded by more than $250 million a year when compared to similarly-sized regions of the province.

The Institut de recherche et d'informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) compared western Quebec to Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie et Centre-du-Québec.

It found spending in areas such as physical, mental and public health was noticeably lower.

"For every dollar spent in health care by the Quebec government, Outaouais people have 75 cents," said Bertrand Schepper, an IRIS researcher.

                                                       
   

Health-care spending per resident, 2015-16

   

Bas-Saint-LaurentSaguenay et Lac-Saint-JeanMauricie ae Centre-du-QuebecOutaouaisQuebec average
$2,992$2,738$2,498$1,938$2,569

It cost the Quebec government approximately $92.5 million in 2017 to cover the cost of reimbursing Ontario for Outaouais residents who travel to Ottawa for treatment, according to the province of Quebec

Staff shortages in the Outaouais have led to overcrowding, forcing some patients to cross into Ontario to seek care in communities such as Ottawa and Hawkesbury.

Schepper said it would take $107 million annually to fix staff shortages, but the economic advantages of bringing those workers into the local economy would cover that cost.

"If $100 million was spent in Quebec it would create more than 1,500 jobs in the health-care sector," he said.

Outaouais health system woefully underfunded, study shows

4 years ago
Duration 0:21
For every dollar spent in health care by the Quebec government, only 75 cents is spent in the Outaouais, said Bertrand Schepper, a researcher with the Institut de recherche et d'informations socioéconomiques (IRIS).

Gatineau family physician Dr. Gilles Aubé, who is also a member of the group Equité Outaouais, said the numbers are a big disappointment.

"It's a little discouraging for the people, because we pay those sums of money to the Quebec government, but it doesn't come back in services," he said. 

Last month, the Hull Hospital dealt with a string of cancelled surgeries due to a lack of operating space. Hospital officials called it a "perfect storm" of emergency patients and other issues that hit the hospital, but Aubé said that's not true.

"It's a chronic situation. It is not a perfect storm," he said. "We are missing resources in staff, in infrastructure, in financing to offer the same healthcare level that other regions can."

Aubé said he knows many people in West Quebec go to Ottawa for services, but they shouldn't have to.

"People should have that access in Quebec they shouldn't have to go the Monfort hospital, or CHEO."

He said the region needs a new hospital to attract specialists to the area.

Equité Outaouais, he said will hold debates about the issue in the upcoming provincial election and he encouraged residents to ask candidates questions about it.

With files from Claudine Richard

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