NS: Cape Breton District Health Authority gets $300M budget

Laura Jean Grant, The Cape Breton Post
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Ongoing challenges for the district include rising oil prices, additional snow clearing costs, and overtime expenses for staff.

The Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney

[SYDNEY, NS] - The Cape Breton District Health Authority will operate under a budget of approximately $300 million in 2014-2015. The provincial government announced its approval of annual business plans for Nova Scotia's nine district health authorities and the IWK, Thursday — including $255.3 million for the Cape Breton District Health Authority.

Dianne Calvert Simms, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, said they receive additional funds to the tune of approximately $45 million from other sources including in-patient and long-term care revenues, and the federal department of Veterans Affairs.

All totalled that means the local authority has $300 million to work with for 2014-2015, slightly more than in 2013-2014.

"Last year our total budget was about $298 million. We anticipate it will be a little bit higher this year because of contract increases for salaries," said Calvert Simms, noting staff compensation represents 80 per cent of their total budget. "We have approximately 4,000 staff across this district."

Calvert Simms said there were no surprises in the operational funding amount announced by the province.

"It was not unanticipated. We were very clear going into this year that there would be no money for new programs and services and it would be a pretty status-quo budget," she said.

At the same time, Calvert Simms described the budgetary process as a very tough one.

"There was a lot of negotiation, discussion and looking at the data and looking at the resources and (determining) where best to put them," she said. "We tried, as much as possible, to maintain services and operations, recognizing that we have challenges due to recruitment, and also to make sure that we maintain the focus on patient safety."

Ongoing challenges for the district include rising oil prices, additional snow clearing costs, and overtime expenses for staff.

"We've seen significant increases in patient volumes in our (intensive care units), in critical care, in our (operating rooms) and in our emergency departments and that all impacts where the dollars need to be spent," she noted.

The Cape Breton District Health Authority has one of the highest operating budgets in the province, second only to the Capital Health Authority at $752.7 million. The Guysborough-Antigonish-Strait District Health Authority, which includes Richmond County and southern Inverness County, will receive $72 million in provincial funding.

"Everyone in the health-care system, from admitting clerks to CEOs, knows our resources are limited, and must be focused on front-line health care," said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine, in a release. "The (district health authorities) have worked hard to ensure we are spending Nova Scotians' health-care dollars wisely."

This is the last year the government will approve business plans for nine district health authorities. On April 1, 2015, there will be one district health authority for the province, plus a separate board for the IWK.

"Things will certainly be changing," said Calvert Simms. "We will be moving to one provincial health authority so things will look quite different."

Organizations: Cape Breton District Health Authority, Department of Veterans Affairs, Capital Health Authority Guysborough-Antigonish-Strait District Health Authority

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cape Breton District, Richmond Southern Inverness

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