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Meaford's council says that they share the concern in the community about the potential loss of surgical services at the Meaford hospital, and they are encouraging residents to forward petitions to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care.

The Council Municipality of Meaford is asking concerned residents to direct their petitions regarding the Meaford Hospital to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care,” council suggested in a media release issued Wednesday afternoon. “Meaford Council recognizes health services as a critical part of the community, and has expressed concerns regarding any potential changes to the services offered at the Meaford Hospital. Council will be very active on this issue, and has committed to doing what they can to help strengthen all health care services in the Meaford community.”

Among council's concerns are the economic impact that a loss of service at the hospital could have on the community.

Council’s concern relates not only from the perspective of services to our community, but also from the economic development view of attracting new residents and businesses. Mayor Barb Clumpus has been actively working on this issue for many months, including meeting with the LHIN, doctors, and Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS),” said council in the media release.

At their November 21 meeting, Meaford council was told that the Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) is facing the prospect of $17 million annual deficits by 2019/20 unless significant changes are made to its cost structure, and that could mean bad news for rural hospitals like Meaford's.

Lance Thurston, GBHS President and CEO, told council that the problems began with changes to the provincial funding formula that hit the GBHS particularly hard.

We're planning for the worst, but we're hoping for the best,” Thurston told council. “We have been advocating, very quietly, very professionally, with the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network), with the Ministry of Health, with our other partners, to try and get the word out that we are particularly hard hit. The funding which changed back in 2014-15, was reset last year, and that reset hit us.”

Thurston told council that of the 32 hospital corporations negatively impacted by the funding changes, five were considered to have had a significant impact, with the GBHS topping that list. In the six years prior to the changes to the provincial funding formula, the GBHS saw surpluses each year totalling $12.7 million, however this year a $4.5 million deficit is expected, and deficits of $7 million next year, $12 million in 2018/19, and $17 million in 2019/20 are being forecast by the GBHS.

Council also understands that the current and projected financial situation for GBHS is serious – it is projecting a budget shortfall of $17 million by 2020, if no changes are made at its six hospitals. This change in GBHS’ financial situation is the result of changes to the provincial funding formula. This funding change is having a negative effect on hospital services in our rural community. It is imperative that this inequitable funding formula be revised by the Province,” said council in Wednesday's media release. “The GBHS Board of Directors has not made any decisions regarding our hospital, and it has committed to public engagement sessions prior to making any decisions. The Board is currently waiting for decisions on certain issues from the SW LHIN before proceeding. In addition to public comments, these decisions will have an impact on the operational decisions the GBHS Board must make.”

Mayor Barb Clumpus has been receiving the circulating petition, however she would like to remind residents to direct their comments to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, who can be reached at:

Dr. Eric Hoskins
The Minister of Health and Long Term Care
Hepburn Block 10th Floor
         80 Grosvenor St,
         Toronto, ON
         M7A 2C4