There’s an election coming. The writs must be drawn up in the next 48 hours, but in that time it looks like there’s going to be a lot of announcements from all parties about wonderful new spending initiatives. Guelph General Hospital was the recipients of one of those cool funding announcements today, but this one comes with the seal of approval from the Minister of Health herself.
“Redeveloping the emergency department at Guelph General Hospital is a key part of our government’s plan to stay open and build a stronger, more resilient health care system with the capacity to ensure all Ontarians are fully supported on their journey to wellness,” said Christine Elliott today in a statement. “This investment will enhance emergency services, including emergency mental health services, so that patients have timely access to high-quality care when they need it the most.”
The Ontario government has approved a request from the Hospital for $15 million to expand emergency services, including emergency mental health services and a special care nursery. The upgrades will increase the ER’s capacity by 60 per cent and will create 14 new treatment areas with more privacy and improved infection control plus private rooms so that parents can stay overnight in hospital with newborn babies.
“With Guelph being one of the fastest growing cities in the province, there’s a need to grow the department,” said Hospital CEO Marianne Walker in a statement. “We are so grateful for this funding as this first phase will expand our undersized emergency department. Once complete, it will help improve the health and well-being of our patients needing mental health and addiction services.”
This provincial funding is two-and-a-half years in the works. Guelph General Hospital first came forward with a request to council in October 2019 for a $4.5 million commitment from the City, which was approved by council during the 2020 budget process to pay equal increments of $750,000 over six years. The total cost of the project in 2019 was $45 million, and the City’s share, plus the $15 million from the Province, leaves $26 million that have to be raised through fundraising.
The project is currently in the planning stages with the Hospital examining service volumes, programming, operational and space requirements, but the provincial announcement represents important momentum for the project, and it also inspired a rare moment of pre-election bipartisanship.
“Today’s announcement is a huge win for the people of Guelph,” siad Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner in a statement. “This much-needed funding will help Guelph General Hospital continue its quality, efficient and effective administration and patient care. This funding announcement is a credit to the team at Guelph General who put forward a compelling case for expansion.
“I’ve been pushing for this funding for years. It’s been a core issue for me at Queen’s Park ever since I was elected MPP for Guelph in 2018, and it’s good news that the funding has finally come,” Schreiner added.