In September 2020, the OHA published a position paper, Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Ontario Hospital Finances, outlining the financial impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and the investments needed in 2020 and 2021-22 to keep hospitals financially whole.

List of Recommendations

Recommendation #1

For most hospitals, the financial impact of the initial wave one pandemic response began in March and still continues.

The OHA recommends that government provide hospitals with immediate and full funding relief for all aspects of the initial wave one pandemic response including:
• Incremental expenses;
• Lost revenue;
• Delayed implementation of plans to balance budgets; and
• Capital investments.

Immediate relief will alleviate hospitals’ current severe cash flow difficulties.

Recommendation #2

Beyond the need for full reimbursement for the ongoing initial wave one response, additional funding is needed for pandemic costs that will be incurred during the second half of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The OHA recommends that government ensure flexibility in the Fall 2020 Budget, in the face of great uncertainty,
in order to:
• Provide for funding to address the backlog of procedures and services as part of wave one recovery;
• Support hospitals in addressing combined capacity pressures due to wave two for:
– Ongoing ALC pressures and flu season;
– Additional expenses related to field hospitals and other physical capacity expansions as hallway healthcare is not an option in this environment;
• Allow for hospitals to continue supporting long-term care providing COVID-19 laboratory testing and operating assessment centres, should government desire.

Hospitals require clarity now regarding the government expectations surrounding each of these items as decisions are already
in progress. Further, this recommendation requires an immediate contingency plan to ensure regional service and staffing
plans are in place ahead of the surge. The OHA extends an offer to work with government on the contingency plan.

Recommendation #3

The “new normal” operations that hospitals are currently experiencing will continue into the next fiscal year and until an effective vaccine is available and fully deployed.

The OHA recommends that government fully reimburse hospitals for “new normal” operating costs currently and through 2021-22 for:
• Sufficient resources to support the continued protection of staff and patients;
• A level of standby capacity that will ensure effective and safe delivery of care.

This recommendation requires that the OHA, the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health work together to better describe the financial impact of the “new normal” environment.

Download the full report here.