Second City, Second Metro: Extended Coverage for the Ottawa Hospital Council

The Ottawa Hospital Agency wanted to spread its wings a little. The Royal Ottawa was part of the Agency. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA008381 (1960).

In the same way that residents of the outside urban and township municipalities were anxious to either have freer access to Ottawa’s hospitals or have their own hospitals, the Ottawa Hospital Council was anxious to find a way to have those outside residents pay a few more bills. 

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The Council represents Ottawa Civic, Ottawa General, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Vincent, Perley, Grace and Riverside Hospitals, the Royal Ottawa Sanatorium and the National Defence Medical Centre.

A major problem confronting Ottawa Hospitals concerns the local and surrounding municipalities which have no policy for contributing to the Ottawa hospitals for -

a) capital costs;
b) the heavy loss in providing out-patient service to their
c) these costs as yet unaccepted by the Ontario Hospital Services

All voluntary and other hospitals serve the same general public from local and surrounding municipalities. It is therefore submitted that financial assistance be provided by all these municipalities and distributed equitably among all Ottawa Hospitals.

The Council supports an area-wide hospital planning agency. And organizational meeting has been held and further meetings will be arranged to complete the organization of such an agency.



The Brief was presented by Mr. Douglas Peart, President, Sister Marie Joseph, Vice-President, Mr. Alec Broad, Secretary and Dr. W. F. Cormier, member of the Council and Dr. J. J. Laurier, Chairman of the Eastern Ontario Regional Hospital Council. These persons represent the Ottawa Civic Hospital (Mr. Peart), the Ottawa General Hospital (Sister Marie Joseph and Dr. Laurier), the Perley Hospital (Mr. Broad), and St. Louis Marie de Montfort Hospital (Mr. Cormier) on the Council. Representatives of the other hospitals in the area which make up the Ottawa Hospital Council were also present for this hearing.

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It was pointed out at the outset that the Ottawa Civic and Riverside Hospitals differ from the others in that they are both owned by the City of Ottawa, with the City carrying their capital debt.

While all are providing some out-patient facilities, the Ottawa Civic and Ottawa General are the only ones providing large out-patient services. Since indigent out-patients represent a net loss toward which municipalities do no contribute, it was noted that this is a costly service for these hospitals. (Municipalities do pay for indigent in-patients of course.)

With regard to the statement made in several other Briefs that Ottawa hospital privileges are restricted to doctors whose practices are located in the City, Dr. Cormier of St. Louis Marie de Montfort stated that there are no such restrictions at this hospital, and that courtesy privileges are available to all doctors in the eastern area as far away as Rockland. At the Ottawa General and Ottawa Civic however, Dr. Laurier and Mr. Peart noted that while the bed shortage and the fact that these are both teaching hospitals has tended to restrict the number of doctors allowed courtesy privileges, no specific requests for the granting of privileges to doctors practicing outside the City have been received or considered for several years, although there are just now two such applications being processed at the Ottawa General. Such applications may or may not be approved. To clarify the picture, the Council agreed to submit a comprehensive description of the situation with regard to privileges in each hospital.

In discussion of the proposal in the Brief supporting a regional hospital planning agency, it became clear that the Council had in view the whole Eastern Ontario Region, while the recommendation about rationalizing the financing of hospitals was concerned with the

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part of this region within about 25 miles of Ottawa, i.e. Carleton and Russell Counties more or less.

With reference to hospital financing, it was pointed out that the picture of hospital debts borne by the City of Ottawa given on page 143 of the Report on Research Findings does not show the full debt for hospitals other than the Ottawa Civic, and in fact for these other hospitals the figures show City debt resulting from outright grants made by the City which these hospitals (unlike the Civic) do not have to repay the City. Their 'private' debt which they must repay is however far greater, and although they (again unlike the Civic) receive special Ontario Hospital Services Commission grants to assist in meeting debt payments, and are allowed to use 50% of their preferred accommodation differential for this purpose, these are insufficient. The result is that Sisters' salaries are partly donated to debt retirement at the Ottawa General, and in other cases interest but not principal must be paid, the outstanding principal having to be refunded as it falls due. To assist the Commissioner, the Council agreed to submit the current debt picture for all the hospitals. It was indicated that, including Riverside, the total is about $24 million.

Thus the hospitals all have severe debt problems, which leave them without necessary improvement funds. It was accordingly strongly urged that all hospital debts in the area be made a charge against pooled tax resources, relieving the hospitals entirely of this burden.