Ralph said he'd been asked at 11:30 to introduce Karen and so he had dropped everything to prepare.  His eloquence has to be quoted exactly.  I am pleased to introduce Karen McGraw.
Karen was suitably grateful for the introduction and said she had just arrived from a meeting with the 4 mayors and the Asst. Dep. Minister of Health to discuss the hospital's financial situation.  It is no secret they are struggling.  They had faced a shortfall before and were reprieved by a one time contribution from the LHIN and this year they were expecting a lift in funding based on their good performance but ended up facing a drop of $300,000.00 which was added to a pay equity driven increase in salaries that left them with a shortfall of 1.2 million.  The formula by which hospital funding is established is very complicated and they are seeking a review.
In the meantime, they had already planned to divest the Penetang site and had moved 36 of 47 beds to a renovated section of the hospital and would be moving the rest over the next 2 years, along with some admin functions and the dialysis unit. But this unexpected new shortfall leaves the Board forced to borrow, which will bring their debt to 12 million. 
They are advocating for extra funding and for a thawing of their base budget which has been frozen for 4 years and for a recalculation of the formula.  The 4 Mayors are supporting their efforts, the community has been making itself known and all the staff are committed to continue to provide quality care.  The facility is 45% bilingual, they have hired an Aboriginal patient navigator and their performance numbers are excellent.  45,000 through emergency is equal to the Mt. Sinai numbers.  They have a new CFO who is versed in the formula and is pursuing further fine tuning and comparisons with other hospitals.  There are no quick solutions.  Layoffs require 6 months notice and cost a lot so savings would be years coming.
Though the Ministry's position on smaller hospitals is not really clear, the rep. at the meeting signed a commitment to sustain the hospital. 
Ralph pointed out that the pay equity problem is one that has been 18 years in the making and is now costing, that other hospitals seem to get paid more for some services than GBGH does and that the formula is opaque so though 12 million deficit seems like bad planning, its a series of events, historical and current that contributed and the Board does not intend to cut services.
Karen said Garfield is very supportive and that their voice is being heard at Queen's Park and they will continue to seek avenues for persuasion.