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Minister endorses plan to temporarily shut Ottawa hospital operating rooms

A report from the Ottawa Citizen indicates that the Queensway-Carleton Hospital is considering cutting elective surgeries for up to 10 weeks beginning this summer to deal with a $2 million budget shortfall, .

Chief executive Tom Schonberg cautions that the plan is based on a worst-case scenario -a one per cent funding hike -and could change as hospital funding allocations become clearer over the next two months.

Health Minister Deb Matthews applauded the hospital. "The Queensway-Carleton Hospital is doing exactly what they should be doing. They're being responsible. They're developing a plan to work within their budget. ...(Not performing surgeries) when staff are on holidays -that seems like a reasonable strategy to me."

The McGuinty government has over the past two years delayed telling Ontario hospitals how much funding they would receive until June or July, well into the new fiscal year, which started on April 1. Even the province-wide 1.5% base funding increase is not guaranteed for any specific hospital, it seems.

At the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, budget pressures are expected to lead to longer waits for outpatient services and in-patient beds.

The substance use and concurrent disorders clinic, for example, which already has a six-to eight-month waiting list for outpatients, could get longer, warned chief executive George Weber. So could the wait for a place in the 12-bed medical detoxification unit.

dallan@cupe.ca

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