Recent History – 2000
Aug. 1, 2000, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
A conflict over money is brewing between two health care bodies.
It all started in late May when South Peace Health Council (SPHC) chair Sheila Barnes attended a Peace Liard Community Health Services Society (PLCHSS) meeting and discovered that the Society has been looking at ways to spend $1.83 million.
That didn’t sit well with Barnes in part because the SPHC is facing a projected deficit of $1.7 million for 2000-01 (See accompanying story). Barnes said the PLCHSS’s $1.83 million amounts to an accumulated surplus, built up by holding back spending in previous years Ñ some of which could have gone the SPHC’s way.
“This is money that’s left over from an annual grant that they haven’t spent and they get the grant every year,” Barnes said. “So do we understand then that they are expecting a reduction in their grant to match the $1.8 million they have in reserve? I don’t think so.”
But PLCHSS chief executive officer Kay Wotton said the $1.83 million is anything but an accumulated surplus. Rather, she prefers the term “operational reserve” and the PLCHSS has some plans for the money.
The PLCHSS has a five-year plan to spend the money. Of the total, nearly $1.25 million is slated to be spent over that time on a director of corporate services, a research officer, a finance officer, and a half-time CCFL officer.
After going without the positions since the Society was formed in 1997, Wotton said that the PLCHSS administration has been stretched to the limit and needs to hire these people.
But Barnes said some of the administrative work, such as payroll, could be done by the SPHC at a much lower cost than what the PLCHSS is looking at. Moreover, Barnes said they’ve made offers to the PLCHSS but have not heard anything back yet.
“The South Peace Health Council has offered to do some of these corporate services for them and we haven’t even had a thank you for your letter,” she said.
Meanwhile, the SPHC has written a letter to the Ministry of Health asking the province to direct the PLCHSS to use some of that money to at least cover the $203,241 deficit anticipated for home support.
(In an arrangement that both Barnes and Wotton admitted seems curious, the PLCHSS supplies the funding while the SPHC does the work in home support).
Barnes pins the blame on the PLCHSS for the shortfall because the Society has been running a surplus in that area. But Wotton has little sympathy for the SPHC.
“They’re not providing services efficiently and effectively and that needs to be done,” she said.
Given the SPHC’s track record, Wotton said she’s also reluctant to see the Society rely on the Council for some administrative services. She also disagreed with Barnes’ assertion that the SPHC could do payroll at a lower cost.
“I’d prefer to be more efficient and effective and collaborate with the other health authorities, but it requires that it be efficient and effective,” she said. “I don’t think we can do things and involve other health authorities if they’re going to be more expensive.”
While the SPHC operates the hospitals and long term care facilities in the Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and Dawson Creek areas, the PLCHSS is responsible for delivering public health, mental health, and continuing care services in the Peace, from Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek.