Public health budget increased to 1.5 percent

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SUDBURY – The board of Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) has given its approval for a $27.4 million budget for 2021 which includes an overall spending increase of 1.5 percent over the PHSD budget for 2020. While the increase overall in the budget is only 1.5 percent, the actual contribution from member municipalities (which include all those on Manitoulin Island) will see an increase of five percent.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for PHSD, confirmed in an interview with the Recorder late last week, “the budget includes an increase overall of 1.5 percent, and a five percent increase in municipal contributions.” The board of health finance standing committee had reviewed the proposed budget in detail and made a recommendation to the board. 

The increase is estimated to represent a municipal per capita levy of $2.46 for every person living in the PHSD jurisdiction.

Dr. Sutcliffe explained that part of the reason for the increase is that the province has cut back its share of funding for public health spending. As of January 1 of this year, the province reduced its share of public health funding to 70 percent, with municipalities having to come up with 30 percent. In the past, the province would provide 75 percent of funding for local public health programming. And in some cases, this was set at 100 percent.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, spending priorities changed for public health agencies and, as had been reported previously, Ontario’s Ministry of Health had contacted PHSD to inform them that they would provide a one-time funding plan of top-up funding up to $2,249,900 for 2020 and $1,179,500 for 2021. PHSD has not submitted its expenses as of yet to recover those funds, and at this point is in a deficit of almost $1.6 million.

Dr. Sutcliffe told the Recorder that PHSD expects its additional costs will be covered by the Ministry of Health to the end of the year, but additional funding has not yet been received.

As for the Manitoulin municipal levies for 2021 and the increase it represents, it includes: Assiginack, $38,947, an increase of $1,854; Billings, $25,881, an increase of $1,232; Burpee and Mills, $14,088, or an increase of $670; Central Manitoulin, $88,410, an increase of $4,210; Gordon/Barrie Island, $23,167, an increase of $1,104; Gore Bay, $38,184, an increase of $1,819; Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, $109,960, an increase of $5,236; and Tehkummah, $18,755, or an increase of $893.