The MUHC's initial reaction to the Baron Committee Report

We appreciate the Baron Committee’s efforts and, on the whole, agree with the report’s findings

The Board of Directors of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and senior management team met this morning with the Baron Committee, as well as with Michel Fontaine, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health (MSSS), and Danielle McCann, President and Director General of the Agence de la santé et des services de Montréal (Agence). At this meeting, Dr. Baron and his colleagues provided their findings to us for the first time.

We appreciate the Baron Committee’s efforts and, on the whole, agree with the report’s findings. While we will study the report more closely in the coming weeks, we want to share our initial thoughts. To download the pdf of the report, click here.

As we all know, the MUHC is in the midst of a period of significant transformation. We are moving forward with our redevelopment project, adjusting our clinical programmes and advancing our teaching and research missions while coping with budget restrictions and limited resources. Our Board and management team have spoken frankly about the challenges that our organization is facing, and has prioritized them. Moreover, we have always been forthcoming about our financial results. Our 2011-12 financial statements indicate, for example, the risks associated with 1750 Cedar and the Research Institute of the MUHC. 

The Baron Committee’s report raised the potential for a $115M deficit this year. We believe it will be significantly lower. 

Further, the report is largely silent on the quality and accessibility of patient care, which are fundamental to our raison d’être. It also makes no mention that we have advised repeatedly the Agence and the MSSS that the MUHC is underfunded in relation to the care we provide, the complexity of patient cases we handle, which cover the entire life span, and the scope of our catchment area. Getting the Glen to construction has preoccupied management for some time, and considerable attention has been focused on the development of our clinical plan, functional and technical programme, as well as on the Glen’s design and the construction. 

However, as we have said, the status quo is unacceptable. It is not business as usual. We have an action plan that we are implementing aggressively. The Board has full confidence in the leadership of Normand Rinfret and the senior management team to carry out this plan. 

The Clinical Activities Priority Setting (CAPS) exercise provides us with our clinical roadmap. It identifies where we excel, which areas of expertise should grow or be maintained, and which services must be delivered by our health network partners. We intend to collaborate with our network partners and the Agence to fully realize our objectives. 

In addition, the performance improvement plan that we’ve developed establishes budget-savings targets, which are also tied to our quality and safety indicators. We have met leaders in all of our clinical missions to engage them in this process because while it might be simpler to announce an across-the-board budget cut, we know that this is not in the best interests of patient care. These efforts are a work in progress. Two years ago, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton conducted a review of our operations. Its report has been taken into consideration in our performance improvement plan.  We have implemented recommendations in areas such as logistics and technical services, and have incorporated them in our budgetary targets. The surplus of 888,000 remunerated hours, mentioned in the Baron Committee’s report, was already part of our internal analysis. This situation must and is being addressed. 

Much is made of our real-estate holdings and leases. We wish to emphasize that the MUHC’s current leadership is following established policies and procedures with regards to property acquisitions and leases. We have already initiated changes to the Syscor Board and are limiting its mandate to its core IS/IT business. However, the buildings on De Maisonneuve are wise investments. They are crucial to ensuring access by public transport to the Glen site, to our clinical plan for 2015 and beyond, and to our future growth. They also play a vital role in harmonious urban integration, a commitment we made to our neighbourhood partners. 

Finally, the Baron Committee’s report is helpful in that it provides a detailed overview of many of our challenges. A key to success is collaboration. While we believe it would have been helpful to be able to provide feedback on the report before it was released publicly and to contribute to defining the mandate of the special advisor we requested the MSSS appoint to facilitate our interface with it and the Agence, we are focused on the work ahead. In this spirit, we look forward to collaborating with Dr. Michel Bureau, a former senior official with the MSSS, who will assume this advisory role.

We have a lot to do to achieve a zero deficit by March 31, 2015. We are counting on everyone’s support and leadership because exemplary internal controls at every level of our operations, dedicated teamwork, and prudent stewardship of public resources are the means with which we will accomplish our ambitions and meet the needs of our patients and their families


Claudio Bussandri, Chairman of the Board of directors

Normand Rinfret, Director general and CEO