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Local Public Health asks province to consult, postpone changes

The Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health is asking the Ontario government to postpone changes in public health announced in the budget, pending consultation.

Though they have not received details, or further information, provincial plans include replacing 35 existing public health units with 10 regional entities, and reviewing the municipal/provincial cost sharing formula which is currently set at 75 per cent provincial and 25 per cent municipal for mandatory. Currently, several related programs are funded 100 per cent by the province.

The board stated communication from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care confirmed the province intends to decrease its contribution in varying amounts depending on the size of receiving regions. Municipalities are expected to fund the difference.

For HPEPH, this means participating municipalities could be required to contribute 30 per cent for both mandatory and related programs – amounting to more than $500,000, and representing a 15 per cent increase in municipal funding to HPEPH for 2019.

The province is proposing changes be implemented retroactively to April 1, 2019.

The board stated it intends to work with the ministry collaboratively and proactively, however, options will need to be considered to mitigate immediate impacts of unexpected changes in structure and funding.

It approved the use of the current operational reserve to absorb the cost of the funding formula change. Recognizing that this is a short-term solution, the board also approved communication to Premier Doug Ford recommending that the province:
– Consult with Boards of Health and the municipalities they serve prior to implementing any changes
– Implement any changes in a carefully timed and phased manner that does not jeopardize the health and safety of our communities
– Postpone any changes to the funding formula until after the implementation of a new regional model, to ensure that public health services are not put at risk
– Provide additional information regarding regional boundaries, service expectations, and funding to facilitate proactive planning

The board states communication will also reinforce that programs and services will need to be delivered in a different way in order to adapt to a new structure and funding model and implemented in a manner that minimizes disruption in service.

Filed Under: Local News

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