'We didn't expect anything,' says Hôtel-Dieu Grace CEO of Ontario budget

The CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace health care is optimistic about the 2016 budget.

Janice Kaffer says she was not expecting new funding considering successive years of 0 per cent increase

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Janice Kaffer refers to hospital funding as a "gift." (Lisa Xing/CBC)

The CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is optimistic about the 2016 provincial budget. 

In it, the province announced $345 million for hospitals. While the NDP says that's not nearly enough to keep up with inflation, Janice Kaffer tells CBC News it's better than nothing. 

What was your initial reaction to the $345 million investment announced in the 2016 budget? 

Janice Kaffer: It isn't a lot of money, but I think we've chosen, at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, to look at this as a gift. We didn't expect anything. We've had successive years of a zero increase budget. So, we had anticipated we would have a small deficit, about $1 million.

It just gives us a bit more ability to move forward with our strategy and make some investments and continue to provide access for our community. 

How do you know for sure money will come to Windsor? 

JK: We don't know for sure. But, there was a provincial call with the Ontario Hospital Association just after the budget was released. We heard the government was working through the next few weeks what each hospital will get. We've done some back of the envelope calculations based on a best-case scenario.

We hope to get up to $400,000 and change. It isn't a huge amount of money, but it's better than not having an increase. We're hoping that's the range. Maybe more, maybe less. We'll wait and see. 

Considering $345 million, in the grand scheme of health care, is not a lot of money, how much of the announcement do you think was a political move? 

JK: Health care is political. It always is. It always has been. It probably always will be. I think this investment is recognition that, for four or five subsequent years, Ontario hospitals have really had to become more efficient. As a taxpayer, as the parents of taxpayers, as the grandparent of future taxpayers, I want the health system to be efficient.

Health care does eat up an awful lot of our budget. If we're going to have good roads and good schools, we all have to do a bit more. So, this small increase does recognize we've done a really good job of doing more with less.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivers budget in Toronto in February 2016. (John Rieti/CBC)


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