MLHU outlines fallout of Ontario budget funding changes
The Middlesex London Health Unit's finance committee learned Thursday that funding formula changes announced by the province will have an almost immediate impact on London's budget and the budgets of Middlesex County communities.
Health Unit CEO and Medical Officer of Health Chris Mackie laid out the financial fallout of a shift which will see the provincial/municipal funding split go from 75% from the province and 25% from municipalities to 70%-30%.
"That means about $2.5 million less provincial funding. And the expectation from province's perspective seems to be that the municipalities would take up any funding gaps," Mackie says.
He admits that's a significant loss from the health unit’s $35-million budget.
Officials say most programs run by the health unit fall under the province's Health Protection and Promotion Act and must be maintained.
According to Mackie, "The Middlesex London Health Unit has already taken some steps to try and mitigate any potential funding gaps."
But Mackie admits those steps won't be enough to fully offset money lost from the province.
London Ward 5 Councillor Maureen Cassidy says municipal governments, including London, will immediately have to review their budgets.
"We haven't seen any kind of (health unit funding) increase come to the municipality in years. I think that may be changing."
Cassidy sits on the health unit's finance committee. She believes the health unit and the municipalities can rise to the funding challenge.
“Together, as partners, we'll be able to roll with this. It's not going to be a drop in the bucket, or not have any affect, but we will be able to manage the situation."
The other challenge will be the province’s announced move from 52 health units across the province to 10 public heath bodies.
Cassidy says all involved parties are looking for clear direction on how that change will take place.
"I know they're getting messages from all across the board. They're getting messages from AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario). They're getting messages from the different health units and health boards. They're getting the message from different municipalities."
In the meantime, Mackie is preparing to enter into discussions with municipal partners regarding the health unit funding.