LONDON, Ont. — Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the province will be offering funding to public health units that want to merge and will reverse cuts to a public health funding formula.
The Progressive Conservative government in 2019 proposed consolidating the province’s public health units, but put those plans on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
Jones says today in a speech to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference that she will be working with the sector to “clarify public health roles and responsibilities to reduce overlap” and will give one-time funding to public health units that voluntarily merge.
Jones says the province will increase base funding for public health units by one per cent a year over the next three years.
She also announced that Ontario will return to being responsible for 75 per cent of the share of public health costs, reversing a cut the government introduced in 2019 when it moved from a 75-25 public health cost-sharing formula with municipalities to 70-30.
Following an outcry at the time, Ford offered mitigation funding to help local governments transition to the new formula that would see them pay a larger share of the costs, and that temporary funding has continued through to this year.
Public health units have been calling on the government to just permanently revert to the original funding level because the reliance on mitigation funding has made it hard for them to plan and budget.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 22, 2023.
The Canadian Press