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Patients’ rights advocates are worried budget deficits could be leading to more cuts at the McGill University Health Centre.

An internal email obtained by The Montreal Gazette quotes the MUHC’s director of finance warning of a dire situation.

“(The MUHC is) heading into a major deficit and we need to put a plan together to staunch the bleeding ASAP,” they said in the email.

The MUHC acknowledged the email is real and said some departments will be affected. In a statement, the MUHC downplayed the deficit’s severity, saying “after three fiscal periods, the MUHC has a cumulative deficit of more than $9 million. These results are very preliminary but are a warning signal.”  

Seeta Ramdass, co-chair of the MUHC Users’ Committee, said she’s concerned that cuts are coming.

“I do fear more services for patients will be divested and this is a preoccupation of our committee,” she said. “We’ve seen that we’ve lost a lot of services and we’re told that we’re going to see them in the community. In fact, we’re not sure where in the community.”

Ramdass said the MUHC’s budget needs a second look by the Quebec Health Ministry since the hospital incurs costs other hospitals don’t, such as translation services for Indigenous, Allophone and Anglophone communities.

According to the ministry 20 out of 35 institutions in the province are operating in the red.

Patients’ rights advocate Paul Brunet said there are several reasons.

“The cost of cancer treatment is certainly one thing but that should not come to a point in their discussions, they must deliver,” he said. “We have patients to treat, patients to save and save them as long as we can.”

Bruent said raises for doctors also are contributing to deficits.

“I say if you give $8 billion to doctors, you better give as much to patients,” he said.