Health Unit Faces Funding Restraint – Public Health Essential to Successful Health System Transformation

At its meeting of November 19, 2015, the Sudbury & District Board of Health approved a 2016 budget that includes significant reductions in both staffing and operational areas. Today’s decision comes amidst the introduction of a new provincial public health funding model by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“The new funding model, combined with very minimal or no predicted growth in the provincial public health funding envelope has resulted in a significant financial impact on the Health Unit for 2016—and these impacts will likely persist well into the future,” said René Lapierre, Board of Health Chair. “While we are acutely aware of the government’s fiscal challenges, we are also aware that successful health system transformation requires a well-resourced and innovative public health system. We intend to work with government and provincial associations to ensure continued investment in the work of public health to protect us and keep us healthy.”

The Health Unit’s 2016 budget results in a 0.55 per cent reduction over the 2015 Board of Health approved budget. Balancing the 2016 budget meant finding savings to absorb a 2 per cent reduction in the provincial cost-shared grant as compared with the 2015 board-approved budget.

“As we went into budget planning, we were looking at a funding shortfall of $562,645. We expect that without decisive action this will grow to over three quarters of a million by 2017. The 2016 gap has been made up through a modest municipal increase and reductions in operations and staffing,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health. “I am regretful to announce that we will be losing staff – both through attrition and layoffs. We are doing our utmost to find efficiencies and continue to protect important public health programs and services.”

Also at its November 19 meeting, the Board of Health discussed public health’s key role in addressing the social determinants of health to achieve health equity. A motion was passed calling for increased investments in public health, ensuring that all Ontarians, regardless of their education, income, or cultural background, benefit from a world-class public health system within Ontario’s transformed health system.

The provincial government’s new funding formula requires 28 of Ontario’s 36 boards of health, including Sudbury & District, to plan for zero per cent funding increases for the foreseeable future. In Ontario, Public Health services received 1.4 per cent ($700.4 million) of the $50.2 billion total Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care budget (2015/16).

This item was last modified on November 19, 2015