VIDEO: Mayor Concerned Over Health Unit Funding Changes

Windsor's mayor is concerned about the impact on city finances from the merging of area health units.

The province is moving forward with a plan to reduce the number of health units in Ontario to 10 from 35.

The changes also include a shift in the funding model with the government indicating that municipalities will be paying a 40% share in the future, a 10% increase over the current system. The government's share would drop to 60%, down from 70%.

In 2019, the city of Windsor provided just over $3.1-million to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's $20-million budget.

If there are no other changes, the city's share would increase to around $4-million under the new ratio.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Mayor Drew Dilkens says any change to the 2019 budget would cause a problem for the city.

"We can't go back retroactively and add costs.  It's simply going to be coming out of reserves or we're going to have to cut programs or take on debt, depending on the order of magnitude," he says. "So none of those things we want to do."

Dilkens says there will need to be an assessment of the services health units provide.

"In terms of operations and in terms of programs that they're delivering. What programs are mandatory, which ones are really important and which ones may not be necessary?" So I think they need to undertake their own review to figure out what programs are important for the community and, at the end of the day, what costs they have to pass on to municipalities," he says.

Dilkens hopes the changes being made will come into effect at the beginning of 2020, when the city has an opportunity to change its budget.