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Director says IHA 'blackmailing' hospital board

Nelson Daily Editor
By Nelson Daily Editor
January 28th, 2011

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

In a move he characterized as “blackmail,” one regional district director said Interior Health Authority is using a points system for prioritizing capital projects to force hospital boards to fund up to 90 per cent of their cost, far above the legal limit.

Regional District of Central Kootenay Area D director Andy Shadrack said the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board (WKBRHB) — comprised of 17 RDCK directors and 13 Kootenay Boundary directors — was given insight at their Jan. 20 meeting in Castlegar into how the IHA prioritized medical upgrades.

He said IHA director of business support for the East Kootenay/Kootenay Boundary, Todd Mastel, told the board there is a “20 point bonus” for districts that are prepared to fund up to 90 per cent of the cost of a capital project — almost guaranteeing the project’s approval.

However, hospital boards across the province have a legal mandate that requires them to fulfill only 40 per cent of acute care capital costs.

“Now, if we are mandated in law to only pay 40 per cent, why would someone come and ask us for 90 (per cent)? It’s an outrage and that’s why I worry about two-tiered funding in this province,” Shadrack said.

“No one should have the right to come and ask us to do something more, and then sit there and tell us that if we don’t fund it they won’t do it. It’s like a form of blackmail.”

IHA’s persistence to push the board beyond their mandate has huge implications for the West Kootenay and Boundary in terms of the overall property tax rate that taxpayers face, said Shadrack.

The hospital board would have to significantly increase property taxation in the RDCK, its member municipalities and the RDKB to help gain approval and pay for a capital project. Instead, the 60 per cent share of the money should be coming from the Province through income tax.

The IHA is downloading responsibility by internal policy and not by legislation, said RDCK chair John Kettle.

“This is germane to how we deal with our budgets and all of that stuff at the regional district level,” he said. “This is an incredible amount of downloading coming our way. Right now it’s all just a wink of an eye. This is all being done surreptitiously; it’s not being done on top of the table.”

This year the IHA asked for $80,000. On the list for next year is a $2 million elevator change at Kootenay Lake Hospital.

In response, Shadrack and Area K director Paul Peterson will be drafting a resolution this weekend to put forth at the April 28 Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments meeting in Kimberley.

They have a deadline of Feb. 1 to get the resolution in. If it passes, it will go to the Union of BC Municipalities to be voted on and, in turn, could become a policy statement issued to the Province on hw funding is handled.

“We have to have a fight with the Provincial government about proper funding of medical facilities, not allowing our property taxpayers to take it on the chin all of the time,” Shadrack said.

Directors are appointed to the hospital board by local government.


West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board

The WKBRHB is a separate entity from the Regional District of Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary. 

The 13 RDKB directors, along with 17 directors of the RDCK make up the board of directors of the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District.

The main purpose of the WKBRHD is to provide funding for hospital equipment and capital projects. For more information please see the WKBRHD – 2007 Financial Statements.

The hospital district pays for 40 per cent of the cost of approved projects while the remaining 60 per cent share is funded by the Provincial government or through donations provided by local hospital foundations.  

Projects and priorities are established each year by the Interior Health Authority.

Source: Regional District of Kootenay Boundary website

Categories: GeneralHealthPolitics


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