Board meeting update: NH expects to conclude fiscal year in break-even position; capital plan updates receive approval pending further discussion

Northern Health is expected to conclude the 2004/2005 fiscal year in a break-even position. At their meeting in Prince George, directors on the NH Board received the organization?s most recent financial update that shows a small deficit, along with progress reports on work to deal with that issue.

?Our deficit to the end of January was about $963,000, which represents less than a quarter of one per cent of our annual operating budget,? said NH Board Chair Jeff Burghardt. ?The use of our contingency fund that?s part of every annual budget along with work to reduce non-critical expenses will result in a balanced budget for this fiscal year.?

NH?s Board has also directed staff to continue developing the organization?s 2005/2006 operating budget, estimated to be $468 million. The Board will consider a finalized budget later this spring.

The Board spent a great deal of time on updates to the Northern Health Capital Plan. The Board has approved a number of aspects of the capital plan, subject to further discussions with funding partners. The aspects of the plan tentatively approved include:

?$38.2 million for major projects, affecting new and previously approved projects in the 2005-2006 fiscal year;

?$8.8 million for life safety and code compliance upgrades from now until 2007;

?$3.3 million as part of new regional information technology allocations;

?$7.7 million for major capital equipment in the 2005-2006 fiscal year; and

?$4.6 million for minor equipment in the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

?Staff will be discussing specific initiatives with funding partners such as regional hospital districts,? said Burghardt. ?As approvals take place, Northern Health and its funding partners will outline the specifics of individual projects through media and public announcements.?

The NH Board has given staff permission to proceed with acquisition of land for a new hospital and health centre in Masset. Planning for the new facility continues, and design work is underway.

Northern Health?s board also approved the Northern Cancer Control Strategy, including the launch of the new Northern Cancer Program to take steps to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and palliative care across Northern British Columbia. The full report is available for public viewing at

The Board has requested more investigation on utilization of cancer screening and treatment services, ways to further improve cancer care services in the north, and information on different models to provide high quality, efficient and unrestrained access to radiation therapy in small populations.

The next Board meeting will take place this May in Quesnel. Other regularly scheduled board meetings are planned for this year in Dawson Creek and Smithers.