Rawlinsons donate $1 million to new Saskatchewan Hospital

New Beginnings campaign raises over $9 million total

The Saskatchewan Hospital New Beginnings campaign has ended with a big donation.

Gordon and Jill Rawlinson have contributed $1 million toward the new Saskatchewan Hospital. The main lobby and central hub of the new hospital will be called the Gordon and Jill Rawlinson New Beginnings Centre.

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Gordon Rawlinson is the CEO of Rawlco Radio, which owns a number of prairie radio stations. Recent large donations from the Rawlinsons include funds toward the Remai Modern art gallery and a new emergency room at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

Retired local radio executive David Dekker represented Gordon and Jill Rawlinson at the presentation ceremony, which took place at the new hospital Thursday.

Dekker said the contribution was important to the Rawlinsons, and “Saskatchewan is always first in the minds of Gordon and Jill.”

The New Beginnings campaign was first announced to the public in 2016, with the intention of raising $8 million for furnishings and equipment for the new hospital.

According to former Prairie North Health Region CEO David Fan in 2016, funding for furnishings and equipment for hospitals, under the current formula, comes from local sources, as opposed to the provincial government.

In a Saskatchewan Health Authority press release, Director of Saskatchewan Hospital Linda Shynkaruk said New Beginnings funding goes toward patient beds, tables and chairs, dietary equipmemt, machinery for patient programs, and equipment including an x-ray machine.

Shynkaruk said furnishings help create a therapeutic environment for patients.

A number of local businesses, organizations and individuals contributed to the New Beginnings campaign.

The matter of municipalities giving local tax money to the campaign was a subject of disagreement among local councils. Arguments against municipal contributions included the fact that the facility would be a provincial one.

North Battleford Councillor Len Taylor argued in a 2016 News-Optimist letter to the editor there are more pressing needs for funding than the new hospital’s furnishings, and supported money going toward “operational programs that provide vocational, recreational, nutritional or housing support like that delivered by Canadian Mental Health Association branches,” and was in favour of all municipalities contributing funding.

Mayor of North Battleford Ryan Bater argued in 2018 funding for furnishings and equipment for the new hospital “wasn't necessarily within the municipal purview.”

In 2018, Battleford town councillor Shelley Boutin-Gervais argued provincial funding ought to be “all-encompassing,” yet supported dedicating local tax money to the campaign for reasons including the employment it would bring, despite her being “not in favour of the whole way it was done.”

Ultimately, local New Beginnings received funding from the Town of Battleford, the RM of North Battleford, and the RM of Battle River, but not The City of North Battleford.

Plaques on a wall at the new hospital feature names of some donors. 

According to a Saskatchewan Health Authority press release, the New Beginnings campaign raised over $9 million, and has begun a legacy fund. Saskatchewan Hospital representatives said they continue to accept donations.


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