Provinces want compensation for
ST. JOHN’S – Provincial and
territorial governments asked the federal government for $33 million in
compensation for the medical isotope shortage, but are now in process of
revising that figure.
The estimate was originally presented to federal officials a few weeks
ago, but the provinces have since been asked to provide more specific
breakdowns of the costs they incurred, due to the lengthy closure of
Ontario’s reactor in Chalk River, Ont.
The provinces have not yet submitted a revised estimate but the issue of
compensation was among the topics discussed by Health Minister Leona
Aglukkaq and her provincial counterparts when they met earlier this
month in Newfoundland. The compensation issue remains on the table and
the federal government is awaiting new estimates from the provinces
before making a final decision.
While the provinces are responsible for delivering healthcare, the
federal government is responsible for ensuring the medical isotope
supply in Canada. Some of the provinces were hit harder than others by
the reactor’s closure, which prompted a worldwide isotope shortage.
Saskatchewan’s total added costs, for example, were $430,000 to
$450,000, but provinces such as Ontario are expected to have far higher
The reactor in eastern Ontario was closed in May 2009 because of a leak
and it took more than a year to get it up and running again. The Chalk
River reactor produces one of the most commonly used isotopes, needed
for medical treatments and diagnostic testing.
During the shortage, the prices for isotopes jumped and hospitals had to
juggle the scheduling of procedures because the supply was so unsteady.
They were also forced to use alternative procedures which contributed to
the added costs due to the shortage.
Posted September 23, 2010