It looks like some tough times ahead for Kenora's hospital. Last night's annual meeting was packed. Concerned residents joined with worried staff, as they pressed for answers from board members.

"I just think that was severely disappointing," said Corey Stacinski afterwards. "No wonder why there's apathy and nobody wants to get involved."

Earlier in the evening, board members got a bit of an update on their financial picture, and it wasn't good. The hospital deficit shot up to $1.3 million dollars by the fiscal year end. That's up from $840,000 in May.

After the June board meeting earlier in the evening, hospital President and CEO Mark Balcaen offered his comments.

"We don't have any further reductions planned. They've all been announced, and we're in the process of implementing. However, we'll be continuing to look at how we can be more efficient," he continued, noting the board will also be lobbying the province for a change in the funding formula.

Balcaen will also be advocating for a change in how the accouting is done.

"Literally, in the last few weeks of the year, we were notified by the ministry that targets we anticipated we would hit with volumes were not achieved, and they clawed back money. That wasn't something we could've predicted. So, it was quite a surprise to us," he said.

Judy Bain speaks for the coalition of health care unions.

"It was really very disappointing for us. We were really hoping to have more of a Q & A (question and answer period) with the board, especially because we have a lot of community members here tonight," she said. "But obviously the board is hands-off to the community. That's clearly the message we got from the chairman."

In terms of next steps, the unions are hoping to talk with the provincial member, Sarah Campbell, before planning their next steps. At last month's town hall meeting, a coalition was formed, in order to fight against the hospital board and the province.

For more information:
Unions speak out about health care
Hospital changes safe and necessary, LHIN