Councilors unsettled by $150m request for new Civic Hospital campus

The Ottawa Hospital has asked the City of Ottawa to contribute $150 million towards the construction of its new Civic campus at Dows Lake, but many city councilors say it’s unfair that local residents have to pay a part of the bill for new hospitals.

Members of the finance and economic development committee received the briefing Tuesday from the city’s chief financial officer, Wendy Stephanson, who called it the largest request for city funding she has ever received.

The decision of how – or if – the municipality should cover 5% of the $2.8 billion price tag for the new hospital will not rest with the current council, as it will come to a new group of decision-makers after the municipal elections in ‘october. .

The site is already being prepared for construction of the new hospital’s parking garage, and the entire Civic campus is expected to be completed in 2028. That’s when the city will have to contribute its money.

The Ontario government will cover $2.1 billion, but is requiring the Ottawa community to cover $700 million for the project, which will replace the century-old structure farther west on Carling Avenue.

$700 million in local sharing for the hospital

The city’s $150 million request was the amount left after The Ottawa Hospital determined it could raise $50 million through retail and other revenues, and after setting a fundraising goal of $500 million fund, the committee heard.

This community effort is “by far the largest campaign in the history of this city,” said Roger Greenberg, who chairs the campaign. His family, shareholders of the Minto Group, donated $25 million at the launch in mid-April.

Greenberg and the hospital’s CEO, Cameron Love, both urged the municipality to step in as well, as other Ontario cities have done for their local hospitals.

Cities like Windsor and Vaughan, for example, have helped finance the construction of hospitals through a tax levy or debt. The city of Oakville even used funds from the sale of the telecommunications arm of its electric utility to help with its hospital.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the province to place so much emphasis on local fundraising and the local share in funding health care. I think that should be a provincial responsibility,” said the Stittsville City Council. Glen Gower and others agreed.

Greenberg could not explain why this was the case, only that it had been so for years.

” It is what it is. Either we increase the local share or the province drops us to the bottom of the list,” Greenberg said.

Love explained that Ottawa’s new Civic campus has already been approved, so a lack of funding could push campus construction behind several other hospitals also in the queue.

The main entrance to a future Civic Campus of The Ottawa Hospital will feature a glass atrium allowing natural light to enter. The 11-story South Tower, with a rooftop helipad, and the seven-story North Tower will house outpatient clinics and inpatient units. (The Ottawa Hospital)

“Unpleasant” tax levy

Stephanson and his City of Ottawa staff will now come up with “one-size-fits-all” options by mid-2023 to help the hospital, without redirecting funds from city operations and projects.

They will also try to avoid imposing a tax burden on residents, which was important to some councilors who fear property assessments used to calculate taxes may be updated.

“With the expectation [Municipal Property Assessment Corporation] adjustment, a levy of any amount would certainly be unpleasant,” said Councilman Matthew Luloff, who is campaigning for re-election in his riding of Orleans.

While a tax levy could be an “easy fix”, Stephanson said his staff would look at other ideas such as a hospital-specific development levy. The hospital is currently exempt from paying accommodation fees, she noted.

Other advisers said Ottawa taxpayers shouldn’t be solely responsible for fundraising for hospitals when the existing Civic campus is the only trauma center in the area and cares for patients from across the country. Eastern Ontario, as well as Quebec and Nunavut.

Barrhaven County Jan Harder, however, highlighted the academic research dollars and health-related businesses the hospital will attract, and said she would support Stephanson’s plan to find ways to pay a $150 million contribution. dollars from the City of Ottawa.

“Give him time to see what we can do to step in, to make sure the first hospital that gets the money is The Ottawa Hospital,” Harder said.

Leave a Comment