Baffin hospital foundation wants to borrow for new building

The Baffin health board wants to pay for a new hospital using a new fundraising foundation but one foundation board trustee may resign over the health board’s rejection of an offer from the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT The Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board’s fundraising foundation wants to borrow money from private companies to pay for a new Baffin hospital in Iqaluit.

That’s because the Baffin health board rejected an offer last week from the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation to build and lease back a new regional hospital and the board now has access only to whatever money it can raise by itself.

Jane Tagak, whose been seconded from the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board to act as director of its fundraising foundation, said there’s no way the foundation can raise all the money it needs through charitable donations.

Borrow a lot of money

“I’m not looking at all the funding coming directly through donations to the foundation. That’s not realistic,” Tagak said. “We’ll probably have to work with some loans. We’re obviously going to have to borrow a lot of money.”

During a meeting last week, board members cited fears about the privatization of health care in rejecting the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation’s offer, as they opted instead to use its charitable foundation to raise the money.

At that meeting the board appointed six trustees to their foundation’s board.

“We’re very much in the initial stages of setting up this foundation,” Tagak said.

The foundation is in the process of applying for a charitable tax number, which will allow it to solicit funds and accept donations. The trustees are expected to meet within the next couple of weeks to determine a fundraising strategy.

“When we can get those people together and have a meeting, at that point we’ll get into more details about how we’re going to go about raising money,” she said.

Exact cost not known

Tagak said the exact cost of the hospital won’t be known until after an assessment is completed on the size and functions of the hospital. That process is expected to begin this month.

“You really can’t aim for anything unless you know it’s going to cost $25 million or $40 million or whatever, and we really need to know what the government is going to put in and what the shortfall is.

“At this point there are too many unknowns and variables. It’s crucial to know how much the government is going to have, both from the territorial government and the federal government, and to know what the foundation has to come up with.”

QC became involved in discussions about financing a new hospital after the GNWT said it doesn’t have the capital dollars to directly pay for the construction of new a facility.

The GNWT agreed, however, to transfer funds to the board to manage and carry out planning for the construction.

Tagak said private companies, banks and individuals are some areas trustees can look to for funding.

Foundation will do lease-back?

“Possibly borrowing the money, possibly going into partnerships with other groups or foundations,” she added as other examples.

“There’s money-making opportunities that other foundations could be interested in or other groups interested in, so there are a lot of options to look at for raising that money.”

She added the foundation wants to own the hospital and lease is back to the board, the same arrangement Qikiqtaaluk Corpora-tion was proposing.

QIA president may resign from foundation

QIA president Lazarus Arreak was named as a trustee to the foundation, but he’s considering resigning the position at its first meeting.

“I’m teetering on the brink of tendering my resignation,” he said, in light of the board’s refusal of QC’s offer.

“If the board, in its ignorance or personal conflicts or whatever, is the issue here between QC and BRHB if it’s going to prevent the region from getting a new hospital, I do not wish to be a part of it.”

Arreak said he refused to sign the foundation’s application for a charitable tax number. Three trustees must sign the application form.

“I refused to be a signatory until the foundation has met and my questions have been answered satisfactorily.”

He added he’s doubtful the foundation will be able to raise the funds to construct a hospital.

“Can you see a group of volunteers in Iqaluit raising a total of $45 million?”

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