A request by the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District to fund its 40 per cent share of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital upgrade with cash, not loans, has been rejected by Interior Health Authority.
Chair Bob Simpson said the CRD’s chief financial officer Kevin Erickson had requested the CCHRD be allowed to ‘back-end’ its contributions for upgrades at both Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake and G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel.
“We had planned to use our reserves and taxation to cover our contribution without any borrowing,” Simpson said.
Northern Health said ‘yes’ for G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital upgrades and that there were no issues for them and at the staff level, while Interior Health said no, Simpson said.
Birgit Koster, director of business support, capital planning with IH, noted in an e-mail to Erickson, that they’d done the analysis of what the cost to IH would be by carrying the project at 40 per cent until 2022/23 and had come to the conclusion that they are financially not in a position to do so.
“Under your proposal IH would have to finance in excess of $50 million, which is not feasible for us,” Koster noted.
With an update this week, capital planning communications consultant for IH Kevin Parnell said at present IH is “in no position to defer the CCRHD funding contribution until later in the project, due to financial impacts to the project and Interior Health.
“In light of the questions raised by the CCRHD, IH will revisit the calculations with them, and if possible, explore viable options,” Parnell added.
During the CCHRD board meeting Thursday, Feb. 13, the directors voted in favour of requesting a meeting with the IH board and Chief Executive Officer to see what kind of answer they can get, Simpson said.
“They are doing what they feel is right and accrue some interest on the provincial funding they’ve got up front, but what they don’t seem to understand is we pay 40 per cent for a lot of projects, not just these major ones, and we need to be able to stretch our dollars.”
Simpson added it doesn’t make sense for the Cariboo Regional District ratepayers to have to pay interest when there’s no negative impact to Interior Health to use the provincial money first.