On Campus

Scandal-plagued McGill hospital has huge deficit

Quebec ups oversight

The Quebec government has appointed an overseer to bring the finances of one of Canada’s top teaching hospitals under control in the face of a staggering deficit.

Government experts have tabled a report that says the McGill University Hospital Centre is headed toward a $61 million deficit by next March that could balloon to $115 million by adding non-recurring deficits to the total.

That deficit — larger than that of all other Quebec hospitals, combined — is only the latest bad news to hit the scandal-plagued institution.

The hospital has responded in a statement, saying it agrees with the findings and points out that it is in a period of transformation.

The devastating report cites risky real estate transactions that that were done without approval from the provincial Health Department or Montreal’s health and social services department.

It also says rules were broken and there was no regard for budgetary constraints. Its authors also say they can’t justify 900,000 hours of unauthorized paid work logged by staff since 2009.

The institution was criticized for refusing to implement the recommendations of a consulting firm that estimated in 2010 that the hospital could save $40 million annually by bringing its practices closer to comparable institutions.

A controversy-plagued $2.3 billion superhospital now under construction did not figure into the report.

That MUHC project was at the centre of fraud charges laid late last month against Pierre Duhaime, the former chief executive of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The arrest warrant alleges that Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa, another former top executive, also conspired to commit fraud and produced false documents in connection with a contract pertaining to the multibillion-dollar superhospital.

The infractions are alleged to have taken place between April 30, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2011.

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