Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday was budget day in Ontario and we watched Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's speech and read the transcript carefully. The government needs to fill in more detail about its approach to hospitals in the 2010/11 budget but I had several observations that will guide our approach to the next fiscal year.

  1. Hospitals will receive a 1.5% increase to base budgets in 2010/11. This is exactly what we estimated in preparing our budgets at UHN. This increase represents a challenge since many of our unionized staff have contracts that mandate an increase considerably greater than 1.5% in the next fiscal year.
  2. The government will honour all negotiated labour agreements (as we will of course).
  3. The government will legislate a ​wage freeze for all non-union staff working in the Broader Public Sector (BPS). The government will attempt to maintain minimal increases in further contract negotiations for unionized BPS staff after current contracts expire.

How will this budget affect us at UHN in 2010/11? We have planned for a 1.5% inflationary increase in our 2010/11 budgets. As you know we have managed our staffing very carefully over the past year- we have evaluated every new hire so that we can avoid any lay-offs and maintain service. We froze senior management salaries a year ago- and it looks like this might now be extended by legislation to all non-union staff. Our non-union increases occur in October so we will have some time to learn exactly what the government means prior to determining our compensation policy for 2010/11. We will watch this carefully and keep you informed.

All of the commentary around this budget talked about how we need to tackle the rising costs of healthcare. In point of fact, we have data showing that our hospital is extremely efficient- but there is no question that we could be more efficient if patients who no longer need our high acuity care could rapidly transfer to other more appropriate facilities. This ALC issue is probably the most difficult problem we are facing- and we will keep on working at it with our community partners.

In the meantime, we will keep our three commitments that we have made to our staff, our patients and our Board of Trustees. With careful attention to hiring practices we will avoid involuntary job loss, we will maintain our patient treatment commitments (especially in high acuity in-patient areas- we are currently analyzing our ambulatory programs to see if some of this care could be better provided in the community) and we will balance our budgets.

Our people at UHN are one of the greatest assets that patients have in the Ontario Health System. We will get through the current economic downturn with our staff intact and having learned a bit more about how to create a sustainable publicly funded heath system. Thanks for your creativity and accountability. I will make sure to let you know as more details about the budget become available.


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