No increase in Ontario funding for Eastern Ontario Health Unit

In this March 2017, file photo, Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, and Director of Finance Frank Spagnolo speak to county council on Monday, March 20, 2017. Roumeliotis says the EOHU is not receiving an increase in base funding from the Ontario government nor is any other health unit in the province. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – Despite suggestions from a county councillor the Eastern Ontario Health Unit may be receiving more money from the Ontario government in 2018, the region’s top doctor says that’s not the case.

“I can tell you we are not getting an increase,” Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU, told Cornwall Newswatch Monday afternoon. “We’re not the only health unit. No health unit in Ontario got an increase (in base funding) last week.”

The written confirmation was given to health units on Wednesday (Nov. 15).

Roumeliotis said their 2017 budget was just approved and the base funding is the same with the exception of some “small” funding for building repairs. “Our base budget has not been increased and that’s why we’re working hard to look at how we can downsize some of our offices (in space only) to save some money moving forward.”

The EOHU received $12 million from the Ministry of Health (MOH) for delivery of public health programs and services in 2017. The $12 million included a $500,000 top up in base and one time funding for some ministry programs, according to the MOH.

Roumeliotis says, according to ministry calculations, they are nearly $1 million underfunded – one of eight underfunded Ontario health units.

During an update to county council Monday, Coun. Gerry Boyce said a board of health meeting on Thursday he was supposed to attend as a board representative was cancelled.

“Because (Medical Officer of Health) Dr. Paul (Roumeliotis) and I got called away to a meeting in Toronto to meet with the MOH and (Health) Minister (Dr. Eric) Hoskins. He had an announcement for us that we had a slight funding increase,” Boyce said.

The councillor wouldn’t share the number publicly because he didn’t believe the figure had been released publicly but he described it as “very slight.”

Roumeliotis clarified that the health minister wasn’t at the Public Health Summit and the deputy minister spoke in his place. The meeting was to highlight the new program standards and reporting requirements coming into effect next year, which includes reporting requirements for funding.

Looking ahead, in an email to Cornwall Newswatch, David Jensen, spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, said no decisions have been made on 2018 funding.

“No decisions have been taken at this time on public health funding for 2018. The ministry continues to advise all public health units to plan for no growth funding for public health programs and services next year,” Jensen wrote.

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