By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s health minister was on the road last Wednesday, announcing funding at various hospital sites.
Christine Elliott says the province is addressing urgent upgrades, repairs and maintenance to help modernize 131 hospitals across the province.
At her first stop, Niagara Health St. Catharines Site, Elliott announced $175 million funding this year through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund to help hospitals maintain infrastructure and ensure “a safe and comfortable environment” for patients.
Niagara Health will receive nearly $1.7 million to increase the reliability of the electrical backup systems in case of a power failure, including retrofitting a switch gear breaker. Money will also pay for refacing the building and replacing the roof.
“These investments will help ensure that patients in Niagara and across Ontario can receive the care they need in a safe and comfortable setting,” said Elliott. “Seemingly small things like well-functioning roofs, windows or heating and air conditioning systems, fire alarms and backup generators can make the world of difference to a patient’s experience.”
Eight Ottawa-area hospitals will receive a total of $14.5 million, with the Ottawa Hospital getting almost half – $7.4 million. The rest will go to Bruyère Continuing Care, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Queensway Carleton, Almonte General, the Montfort Hospital, Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Elliott visited Stratford General Hospital next, announcing nearly $1.3 million to repair the roof, replace aging security cameras and the hospital cooling tower.
And at St. Mary’s General Hospital, the minister committed $7.4 million to support the redevelopment of the Heart Rhythm Program and nearly $750,000 to support roof replacements and upgrades to generators.
“Ontario has a plan to build a connected and sustainable public health care system centred around the needs of patients, including investing $27 billion over 10 years in hospital infrastructure projects,” said Elliott. “Maintaining hospital infrastructure is one more example of how we are working towards ensuring that Ontarians have the health care services they can depend on while building the capacity we need to end hallway health care.”
According to a ministry spokesperson, a full list of funded projects is not available and local announcements will continue through the new year.
Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association thanked Elliott on behalf of Ontario hospitals.
“Given the continued capacity pressure facing hospitals as a result of growing and aging population, ongoing investment in equipment upgrades and building repairs is needed to extend the life of all hospital facilities,” he said.
Also, to help hospitals secure money from donors, the government is updating the hospital naming directive so that hospitals in Ontario are no longer required to obtain approval from the Minister of Health prior to adopting new corporate or business names. This change recognizes that named recognition meaningfully motivates philanthropy and will facilitate increased donations to hospital foundations for major upgrades and development.
“Donor naming opportunities benefit the entire community, providing investments in hospital infrastructure, equipment and programs that patients need and allowing for growth and innovation in hospitals that could not otherwise occur,” said Dale.
To ensure that any changes to corporate or business names respect the interests of local communities, Ontario has provided each hospital with a clear set of expectations related to hospital naming activities. These include developing and putting in place a naming policy and ensuring meaningful consultation with stakeholders and the local community, among others.