Report suggests irresponsible spending

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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In 2007, VFA Canada warned the Ministry of Health that money needed to be spent as part of health-care facility repair costs.

After portions of another report from the consulting firm were released on July 4, it’s evident that many of those repairs have been put off.

Prepared in 2013, the report notes that $2.2 billion needs to be spent on providing maintenance upgrades to a large majority of the province’s approximately 270 health facilities. This is despite the ministry having dolled out more than $1 billion since the 2007 report.

Used to calculate the cost of repairs that VFA Canada notes need fixing, was the Facility Condition Index (FCI) the total cost of existing maintenance needs in a particular facility (FCI Cost), divided by its replacement value.

In the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR), the FCI Cost rang in at $89.7 million — a figure that looks worse than it actually is.

How so?

For one thing, the FCI Cost excludes non-condition-based requirements, such as building equipment needs. It also has no recommended action date.

A spokesperson for the ministry told the Times-Herald that pushing the financial envelope with respect to new capital projects, or the allocation of additional resources for health facility upgrades is a priority. However, it’s a priority that must first go through an annual review process by the government.

This review process will surely not throw money at health regions to repair existing maintenance deficiencies. Instead, it’s up to health regions, such as FHHR, to adequately keep records of maintenance issues and then determine an amount of cash — if necessary — needed to repair something that has reached a critical stage.

Essentially, the FCI figures listed in the report are more like guidelines — at least in the short-term.

The report is a tool that will be used by the province, as well as its health regions, but on what appears to be more for long-term planning.

As with daily things in life, we put off repairs until we feel they are absolutely needed. Fixing the brakes on your vehicle might, for example, classify as one of those items we only repair when it’s critical to do so.

In line with that example, the FHHR believes it would be irresponsible to spend money on the Moose Jaw Union Hospital’s air conditioning system, especially knowing that in roughly one year the new regional hospital will be open.

We concur with the FHHR and think the report should be taken with a grain of salt. If it’s old it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s broken, which is what a large portion of the report argues is the case.

All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.

Organizations: Times-Herald, Moose Jaw Union Hospital

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