The CSRHD grants support health facilities in the region’s rural and remote communities like Tahsis. Image, Village of Tahsis

The CSRHD grants support health facilities in the region’s rural and remote communities like Tahsis. Image, Village of Tahsis

Comox Strathcona hospital district doubles grants to rural facilities

Board is also considering other projects such as a health services hub for Comox Valley

While the main focus for regional hospital district board is raising local revenue toward capital costs for health facilities such as the hospitals in the Comox Valley and Campbell River, they do also assist medical clinics in smaller communities.

At the Jan. 28 Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board meeting, directors passed a motion to double the size of the grants provided to a half dozen small communities in the service area, which is made up of the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts. These work similarly to the grants-in-aid the local governments make to organizations in their communities.

Board member Brenda Leigh, a member of the SRD, made the motion to increase the size of the annual grants from the current $5,000 up to $10,000.

“We haven’t increased the grant for quite a few years,” she said.

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Board member Martin Davis, who represents Tahsis as its mayor, said the money acts as “petty” cash for small communities like his but is useful in helping cover costs for updates at facilities.

While there was all-round support for the motion, there were some questions. Noba Anderson, another SRD representative, asked whether the move would be substantial enough to help the communities and wanted more information from staff at a later meeting.

“I’m not sure whether it’s comprehensive enough,” she said.

In response, Leigh said the decision can act as a ‘placeholder’ for the budget, adding that the board can always adjust the funding later.

“I think it’s important to get this on the table,” she said.

There was also some question about the use of the funds, in light of CSRHD’s mandate to cover the local portion of capital costs for projects like the North Island Hospital campuses. Board chair Charlie Cornfield, who was re-elected earlier in the meeting, noted that with the grants, they do not determine how the communities spend the money.

“I don’t believe it’s restricted to capital,” he said.

Staff confirmed the grants are unconditional. The CSRHD website lists the funded facilities as Cortes Health Centre, Gold River Health Centre, Kyuquot Health Centre, Sayward Primary Health Care Clinic, Tahsis Health Centre and Zeballos Health Centre, in addition to the two hospitals.

The issue of increasing the grants to the clinics in rural, remote and Indigenous communities was one of the areas for discussion in recent months, along with considering support for a long-term care facility in Campbell River and a health service hub in the Comox Valley that would consolidate services.

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