Council denies Hospice funding ask; requests meeting

Council would like to support the Prince George Hospice Society, but just cutting a cheque isn’t going to cut it.

A funding request from Hospice almost got tabled without discussion at a rare Wednesday meeting of council, however Coun. Jillian Merrick raised the question of whether the city could even provide a portion of the $25,000 request for capital upgrades and $10,000 towards operating costs through the city’s contingency fund.

Hospice is requesting $10,000 towards a patient lift, $3,000 for wall repair and painting, $5,000 for furnishing, $5,000 for beds and mattresses, $2,000 for furnishing.

Coun. Frank Everitt put forward a motion, seconded by Coun. Garth Frizzell, to provide the society $5,000.

Coun. Terri McConnachie said rather than simply cut a cheque, she would like to see representatives from Hospice come to council with their request.

That was something Coun. Murry Krause would also like to see.

“I’ve been a hospice supporter since its inception,” said Krause. “I’m not supportive of tokenism in any way. Sitting down and having a conversation with them would be valuable.”

He said simply approving funding would provide a “dangerous path” as other health care providers would start looking to the city for funding.

Funding for health care, in general, is an issue, added Coun. Garth Frizzell.

“This really highlights a problem in our entire system,” he said. “We have an aging population, we have organizations like hospice that do incredible work, but we have funding mechanisms that haven’t been set up right.”

He said city funds, raised through taxation, should be to fund the work the city is required to do.

“We’re not here to fund work that should be paid by the federal government or provincial government,” said Frizzell. “We’re here to pay for things that should be funded by local government. The problem is, we’re the last order of government. When the other orders don’t come through, there’s no one else but us.”

Mayor Lyn Hall said a meeting with Hospice officials would be beneficial.

“There’s no question the work hospice does is so important,” he said. “The invitation to sit face-to-face is to have a conversation about their request.”

Council withdrew the motion to provide $5,000 in funding and staff was directed to arrange a meeting with Hospice officials.