Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/May 1, 2019
At today’s regular meeting of the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health, the Board responded to the 2019 Provincial Budget, released in April, and the corresponding plans to modernize public health across Ontario.
Provincial plans for public health 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% provincial and 25% municipal for HPEPH mandatory programs. In addition, several related programs are funded 100% by the province. Communication from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care confirmed that the province intends to decrease their contribution in varying amounts depending on the size of receiving regions, and municipalities are expected to fund the difference. The province is proposing that these changes be implemented retroactively to April 1, 2019. For HPEPH, this means that participating municipalities will be required to contribute 30% for both mandatory and related programs – amounting to over $500,000, and representing a 15% increase in municipal funding to HPEPH for 2019.
The Board of Health recognized the need to implement a sustainable public health system in Ontario, and the Board intends to work with the Ministry collaboratively and proactively to ensure HPEPH can respond to local needs as any changes are applied. However, it was recognized that options will need to be considered to mitigate the immediate impacts of these unexpected changes in structure and funding. In efforts to mitigate these impacts, the Board 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 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 that HPEPH is willing to work with the Ministry to ensure that any changes are implemented in a manner that minimizes disruption in service.
The work of public health continues to be essential to the long-term sustainability of the health care system by protecting the health of the population and preventing disease and injury before it occurs. Maintaining a strong investment in public health programs and services will help reduce cost and strain on the health care system for years to come.
Phone: 613-966-5500 x 464 or 613-848-2398
About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit www.hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.