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Sea to Sky hospital district approves $4.3M budget

Most of this year's budget is taken up by a contribution to a CT scanner in Squamish.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced on Feb. 12 behind Squamish General Hospital that the district is getting a Computed Tomography (CT) scanner at the hospital. Dr. Stephen Masselink, VCH medical director for Squamish looks on behind Dix.

The Sea to Sky Regional Hospital District (SSRHD) board has approved and adopted its budget for 2024, with the new computerized tomography (CT) scanner coming to Squamish taking up the lion's share of capital projects for the year.

Total expenses for the SSRHD's capital projects are forecast to be $3,139,249, with $2.6 million of that going towards the SSRHD's contribution to the new $6.5 million CT scanner for the Squamish General Hospital (SGH), which was announced in mid-February.

At the Feb. 28 meeting, the board acknowledged that the $2.6 million would be taking a large bite out of the SSRHD's reserve fund, which meant that the hospital district would be increasing its tax requisition increase on residents by 5% for an additional $75,511.

The district's total funds raised through requisition is a little over $1.5 million across the entire district. 
In 2024, the average tax burden on residents in the Sea to Sky for the hospital board will be $29.10 per million dollars of assessed property value.

Contributions to the hospital district are collected through property taxes annually in each of the member municipalities and passed to the district, which uses those funds to advocate for and build up health care resources.

According to budget documents, most of the funds collected through requisition come from Whistler, which has the highest property values in the district, meaning it will contribute $910,749 to the SSRHD in 2024, while Squamish will contribute $497,838, Pemberton $64,462, Area C $57,751, and Area D $54,934.

Speaking to the success in securing a CT scanner, SSRHD board chair Jenna Stoner said it spoke to the work the board had been doing over years—but the cost was the reserves.

"We will be drawing down a fair bit of our reserves in order to contribute to that CT scanner, so this budget does see a 5% tax requisition increase, but the intention of that is to help build back those reserves," she said, explaining that a Sea to Sky master plan for health care was well underway through discussions with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

"The need for health care support in the corridor is not waning anytime soon … I think it's important we build back reserves through this budget."

During the discussion, board member Tony Rainbow queried whether the contribution of $900,000 from Woodfibre LNG towards the CT scanner would be affecting the SSRHD's allocation of funding (up to 40%) or not, indicating that if it did, it could free up funds to go towards other projects in the corridor. Staff did not have an answer, but board chair Jenna Stoner said they would seek clarification with VCH.

Funding for the CT scanner is made up of $1.1 million from the Squamish Hospital Foundation (of which $900,000 is a donation from Woodfibre), $2.6 million from the SSRHD, and $2.8 million from the provincial government through VCH.

Other capital projects on the books are a $100,000 contribution towards the addition of a dedicated washroom to the post-anesthesia recovery room at SGH, $264,000 towards renovating the bathing room at Hilltop House (south) long-term care, and $159,610 towards a new patient monitoring system at the Whistler Health Care Centre.

For each project, the SSRHD is expected to contribute up to 40% of total costs, with the remainder covered by the provincial government or other funding streams.

Complete expenses for the SSRHD in 2024 come in at $4,355,534.

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