QC may invest in new Baffin hospital

The president of Baffin’s Qikiqtaaluk Corporation says his organization isn’t opposed to the use of pirvate money to finance a new Baffin hospital ­ and that QC may be an investor in the new facility.



The president of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation isn’t opposed to private funding being used to construct a new hospital for the Baffin region.

“What we’re worried about is privatization of health care,” Jerry Ell said.

In fact, at a Baffin leaders’ summit in Pangnirtung earlier this month, Ell seconded a motion stating that QC, along with other organizations is “willing to assist with financing the capital costs of a new hospital on a leaseback.”

“It’s not privately owned, it’s privately financed,” Ell said.

Anne Hanson, chair of the Baffin Regional Health Board, said the board will meet in the near future to discuss QC’s proposal.

But Hanson gets nervous when talk starts to centre around the use of private money to construct a new hospital. She said the board’s position is to have a new hospital financed by non-profit organizations.

“We’re talking more and more towards different organizations banding together,” she said.

The hospital, which is located in Iqaluit, dates back to the early 1960s and is beginning to show the wear and tear of the past three decades of use.

Because the cash-strapped territorial government is in no position to provide funding to construct a new hospital, those wishing to see construction go ahead have banded together to come up financing options.

That was the focus of a meeting of Baffin leaders, including Hanson, Ell and three regional mayors, Wednesday afternoon in Iqaluit.

“We’re talking about innovative financing to get around the stumbling block we have right now where the current government has no capital dollars available,” Ell said.

Hanson, in continuing to voice her opposition to privatization, has been criticized for stalling talks.

“Today, I was accused many times that I’m holding up (the process),” Hanson said after Wednesday’s meeting.

The size and cost of the hospital hasn’t been determined, but the board will begin a study of the operations and functions needed in a new facility.

“Out of that we will know exactly how big the hospital will be and roughly how much it will be.”

The board has planned for construction to begin on the new hospital in the late summer of 1998.

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