Council to consider increased contribution to hospital redevelopment

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation board chair Monica Alyea and executive director Penny Rolinski asked councillors to consider increasing the municipal commitment to the construction of a new hospital in April. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette staff)




Committee of the whole has supported a motion that would see the County increase its commitment to a new hospital to $4.5 million.

If the motion is approved by council at their next meeting on June 26, the County would commit a maximum of $4.5 million to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation as part of the community’s share of the capital funding requirements, equipment, and other expenses related to the construction of a new hospital. The plan to finance that contribution would be determined during the 2019 budget process.

In 2015 council committed $1.25 million over 10 years to the project. Earlier this year, hospital foundation asked council to consider increasing that amount to a maximum of $4.5 million. At a subsequent meeting councillors asked for a report on the financial implications of the ask.

That report came back last Thursday and was met with support.

Councillor Jim Dunlop said to put the ask in perspective, when the municipality was looking at building a new community centre in Wellington the community rallied to raise $2.5 million over five years.

“Now we’re talking about a hospital — $4.5 million is a no-brainer in my mind,” he said.

Councillor Steve Ferguson said supporting the commitment would give the county’s provincial representative more leverage to push for support for the hospital project at Queen’s Park.

“It would give our MPP the ammo to deal with the government by showing our support,” he said. “The hospital is probably the most important thing we’re going to be deciding on and committing to during our term.”

Back in April, hospital foundation executive director Penny Rolinski and board chair Monica Alyea told councillors the 10 per cent community share of the $76-million project is estimated at $12.7 million. When the capital campaign contribution is added to planning and annual fundraising costs, the requirement is $16.5 million. A contribution of $4.5 million would represent about 27 per cent of the community share of the project. Rolinski suggested the $4.5 million could be achieved over seven years if each of the county’s 12,600 households contributed $52 annually.

Based on current timelines, the report says construction on the new hospital could begin in 2022 with an estimated completion date in early 2025. Any financial commitment the municipality makes wouldn’t be required until 2023.

The report suggests given the municipality’s reserves and tax levy constraints, it wouldn’t be financially prudent to raise $4.5 million by 2023. Raising that figure over the next five years would add $900,000 to the tax levy — a 2.5 per cent tax increase. The report suggests the municipality fund the contribution over a longer term, requiring the County to finance the contribution with debt.

Quinte Health Care (QHC) has moved on to Stage 2 of the redevelopment process. The functional program stage will see the outlining of programs and services and will detail how they fit within the new hospital. There will also be a review of staff, equipment, and space requirements. The stage is expected to continue through 2018. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has provided a planning grant of $500,000 to assist QHC with planning for the redevelopment. Before submitting Stage 2 material to the ministry, the hospital foundation has to demonstrate progress in raising the local share of the project.