The staff at the North Bay Regional Hospital are bracing themselves for another round of layoffs, as the facility struggles with insufficient provincial funding.
Another 30 to 40 jobs are on the line, Paul Heinrich, President and CEO told BayToday. Almost 400 jobs have been lost in the past five years.
The latest cuts come despite the fact the hospital has managed to hit all its budget targets and balanced the budget the previous year.
"That's despite the enormous pressure we were under. Now we are faced with some new costs that are beyond our control."
Those include arbitrated wage settlements for unionized workers, benefit costs that have risen substantially and soaring energy costs.
"So we've started the new year having to find another five million dollars and we don't have confirmation of any new money from the government. Even if there is new money coming there is still going to be a gap."
Heinrich says it is now extremely difficult to make more changes.
"We're a high-performing hospital. We've done a massive amount of changes. The hospital is the safety net for the system so we have always scrutinized and we are the most efficient component of the health system.
"The point is we're coming very near the end of the line.There are very little efficiencies to be had now in the hospital system."
It's been a bad week, jobs wise for Mayor Al McDonald with the OPG announcement, then more cuts to the hospital.
"I'm obviously disappointed. You're seeing provincial cutbacks right across the board. We're no different than any other municipality. It's something that's out of our control that we do our best, but it just goes to show that you can't take your eye off the ball and you have to continue to work hard and that's what we're doing."
But Michael Hurley, President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) says the North Bay situation is different.
"The Ontario government needs to step up with funding for the North bay Regional Health Centre in recognition of its special circumstances because the province saddled it with a private-public partnership infrastructure model which is more expensive to operate than other hospitals. the hospital has also gone through about eight years of budget cuts and its reached its limits of capacity to function properly without the additional funding and the Ontario government needs to inject a real funding increase into the budget and it needs support and recognition of the infrastructure which it has to maintain.
"It also needs to deliver on the additional funding the hospital needs just to meet its basic costs which are rising around 5.3 per cent a year."
It's a point Heinrich can agree on.
"The point is we're coming very near the end of the line.There are very little efficiencies to be had now in the hospital system.