EDITORIAL: Unhealthy debate hinges on who pays what share of hospials


Is it business as usual or is the hospital debate dysfunctional?

Health care is about to undergo major surgery in Muskoka one way or the other.

The public love-in between all parties was shattered this week with Huntsville’s threat to blow up the process by going to province and calling for the MAHC board to resign, along with its CEO Natalie Bubela.

One can only wonder what real estate people are thinking.

Or economic development staff at the towns.

Or seniors in the GTA and cottagers thinking of retiring here.

Or young families or businesses looking at relocating here.

Or any other Muskoka planners.

A lot of talk and discussion and a number of studies have been undertaken involving hundreds of learned health experts and plain patients and politicians.

It probably a bit of both of the above.

Hospital and healthcare is complex.

Even a new model or way of conducting health care locally is being studied.

Could Muskoka be a template or testing ground for more home care and less long-term and acute healthcare?

That’s entirely plausible.

No matter, health care is about to undergo major surgery in Muskoka one way or the other.

But the crux of the matter is money — and who pays for it.

Traditionally the province foots the bill for most of cost of a new hospital.

In Parry Sound it was about 85 per cent.

MAHC is constantly crying poor mouth and that they are under-funded.

Rightly so.

And its board is already calling form some $114 million in capital costs just to keep the existing two sites as they are in Bracebridge and Huntsville — without any significant decisions in the near future.

The province with its soaring health care budget is vitally aware of the problem.

And it seems their solution is for Muskoka to pay more for whatever it wants.

If it’s two hospitals — either full service or shared service — local taxpayers and cottagers would be on the hook for a possibly more expensive solution through higher district and municipal taxation and fundraising.

Bear in mind the province is precisely aware of how much Muskoka can afford to pay for what it wants – or thinks it needs.

Say a 60-40 split or thereabouts.

If, on the other hand, Muskokans can be convinced of the merits of better health with one super hospital, then maybe the province pays for a larger chunk of the capital.

All of this while the province pays 100 per cent for operational costs and hospital foundations are stuck with paying for more and more equipment updates and basic furnishings.

Something to think about this election.