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Thousands of patients in Montreal's West Island risk losing doctors if private clinic deal falls through

Brunswick Group employs 125 people and provides care to 300, 000 patients per year. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Brunswick Group employs 125 people and provides care to 300, 000 patients per year. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Montreal's West Island may lose one of its private health-care providers, a major development that could affect as many as 300,000 patients per year.

That's what's expected unless Brunswick Group, one of the largest private medical clinic groups in the province, is able to finalize a deal to restructure its finances.

Brunswick Group owns several clinics at a facility in Pointe-Claire, Que., including the Children's Clinic.

The company employs 125 people there, and 115 doctors practice in the clinics.

For now, those clinics remain open, and they have not cut back on services.

According to court documents obtained by Radio-Canada, the Brunswick Group asked for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in July 2023.

Ayman Chaaban, partner and trustee at accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thorton, says the Quebec Superior Court appointed him to monitor the Brunswick Group's finances under the Bankruptcy Act and Insolvency Act earlier this month.

"Brunswick Group is insolvent," reads a report Chaaban sent to the court.

The document points to an accumulated deficit of $21 million. The Brunswick group also owes over $41 million to secured creditors and nearly $7 million to unsecured creditors.

According to Chaaban, the financial trouble stems from the losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent expansion project. The decision to build an additional tower for the Pointe-Claire clinic in 2019 raised the debt for the amount of revenue, he said.

In addition to that investment, the pandemic led to a reduced number of patients visiting the clinic, which cut into its profits, he said.

"They were already significantly indebted. They had to go get additional loans to cover losses," Chaaban said.

Despite financial woes, Chaaban told CBC News that an agreement in principle with a buyer was reached last week. He said there are still some conditions to be negotiated and some final steps to take but he expects the deal to be sealed before the end of February.

According to Radio-Canada, the ELNA Medical Group is in the running to acquire the medical activities of the Brunswick Group. "ELNA forms the largest network of medical clinics in Canada," reads its website.

Earlier this week, another Children's Clinic owned by the Brunswick Group shut its doors.
Earlier this week, another Children's Clinic owned by the Brunswick Group shut its doors.

Earlier this week, another Children's Clinic owned by the Brunswick Group shut its doors. It operated within the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The regional health authority, the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, told Radio-Canada it's "aware of the financial difficulties encountered by the clinic in question."

"With this in mind, we are ready to adopt mitigation measures if necessary, in order to minimize any potential impact on the services offered to the population ," the CIUSSS said in a statement.

The Children's Clinic in Pointe-Claire is not the only pediatric service under the Brunswick Group's umbrella.

A separate Children's Clinic based in the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) closed its doors on Friday.

On Thursday, parents were notified online that their children's private clinic was closing its doors within 48 hours.

"We regret to inform you that due to circumstances, The Children's Clinic located at 5100 de Maisonneuve West (Glen location) will be closing. We anticipate the last day of clinic operations to be January 26, 2024," reads a message on its website.

According to the clinic's medical director, Harley Eisman, keeping the clinic open was no longer economically viable.

The clinic told CBC it found new locations for most of the 50 doctors that practiced there.

The clinic employed about 15 people.

The Children's Clinic within the MUHC was paying rent to the health centre that owns the building. It told CBC that it had no role in the closure and helped the doctors formerly employed there to find new places to practice.

Founded in 1995, the Brunswick Group is owned by seven shareholders, including five doctors.