Hydro costs are hurting care at BGH: Group
Soaring electricity bills are sapping funds that Brockville General Hospital should be spending on health care, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) claims, citing data it received from a freedom of information request.
“How is Brockville General Hospital expected to manage their budget when electricity bills are rising by hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite reduced consumption?” CTF Ontario director Christine Van Geyn said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
“The more the hospital has to spend keeping their lights on, the fewer resources they have for patients.”
The hospital’s top administrator said BGH is doing its best to manage rising costs across the board and added a new consolidated hospital facility to be built in the near future will include more energy efficiency,
The CTF release cited documents obtained under a freedom of information request; the information shows bills increasing steadily over the past five years, from $769,826 in 2012 to $1,138,733 in 2016, or an increase of 48 per cent.
During the same period, actual electricity use fell by 30,501 kilowatts, it adds.
“Families across the province all feel the pain of rapid increases to the cost of electricity when they pay their home electricity bill. But what many people don’t think about is the cost of the Ontario government’s failed electricity policy to the institutions we all rely on, like Brockville General Hospital,” Van Geyn’s statement continued.
“Instead of paying an extra $368,907 for inflated electricity bills, B rockville General Hospital could have paid for 15 kidney transplants.”
Nick Vlacholias, BGH’s president and chief executive officer, confirmed the veracity of the advocacy group’s numbers, adding the hospital provided those figures in keeping with the information request.
BGH management is working on its budget to minimize the cost of electricity and its impact on patients, he added.
But he stressed the rising electricity bill is part of a broader financial picture.
“We have inflationary costs across the board, with energy being one,” said Vlacholias. And he pointed to the coming BGH redevelopment, expected to begin in early 2018.
The project will consolidate programs and services currently offered at the hospital’s Garden and Charles Street sites to a single campus at the Charles Street site.
The project involves a combination of new construction and renovations, including a new fourstorey tower that will accommodate 29 mental health beds, 32 complex continuing care and palliative care beds and 32 inpatient rehabilitation and restorative care beds.
The redevelopment will result in a net increase of 22 beds.
BGH still aims for occupancy of the expanded hospital in the fall of 2020.
Vlacholias said such things as LED lighting and control systems will improve energy efficiency so that, while the hospital will have more square footage, the cost per square foot will be less.
Vlacholias said the government has done a good job recognizing the hospital needs additional support.
But Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark said the CTF data are another indictment of the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“It just shows the stress that hospitals have been put under,” said Clark.
He pointed to a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s Recorder and Times by a man whose wife faces an anxiously long wait for cataract surgery.
“What could have happened if we had had the funding increases at the hospital?” the Progressive Conservative MPP asked.
Officials in the premier’s office referred questions on the matter to the office of Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault. Officials in that ministry had yet to respond at press time.
It just shows the stress that hospitals have been put under. What could have happened if we had had the funding increases at the hospital?” Steve Clark
Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark speaks to Joan Simon, executive director of the Brockville and District Hospital Foundation, at the unveiling of a sign marking Brockville General Hospital's coming multimillion-dollar expansion in this October file photo.