MPP Gretzky Raises Concerns over Health Unit Cuts

AM800-NEWS-Lisa-Gretzky-Queens-Park-July-18-2018

Concerns over cutbacks at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit have reached the Ontario legislature.

Windsor-West New Democrat MPP Lisa Gretzky questioned Deputy Premier Christine Elliott this week asking how the province can say it is strengthen health care, when cuts are occurring.

The health unit announced this week that it had to cut five non-union and 4.5 union jobs including some nurses.

During a budget meeting on Monday of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Board,  the chair of the board, Warden Gary McNamara blamed the cuts on changes to the cost sharing formula from the province.

In the past, the province was responsible for 75% of the budget and municipalities paid for 25% — but moving forward, it is 70% province and 30% municipalities.

Gretzky called it a huge blow to the community and says the province's priorities are skewed.

"The Conservatives have wasted no time cutting the critical public health services that people rely on, yet just recently, they hired another special advisor to hold consultations on their plan to overhaul public health and emergency services."

Deputy Premier Christine Elliott says the structure of public health units is being reviewed to try and improve services. 

"The facts are that we are strengthening our public health care system, in fact the funding has been maintained for this year, there are no retroactive changes, there are some changes that are happening as of January 1st," said Elliott. 

Last week, the Ontario Nurses Association Local 8, which represents the local nurses at the health unit,  announced that eight Registered Nurses were being deemed redundant, but AM800 news has learned to help offset the cut, the health unit is hiring four Registered Practical Nurses and one lactation consultant.