Cornwall will take $307K hit for health unit changes, councillor says

Cornwall Coun. Syd Gardiner reads the figures he received on how much money the City of Cornwall will face under the Ontario government's health unit changes during a council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Gardiner says the city will have to pay an extra $307,000 this fiscal year. The money is not in this year's budget. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall should be to prepared to take a $307,000 hit under the Ontario government’s changes to provincial health units, Coun. Syd Gardiner warns.

The provincial budget included a $200 million cut to public health units and consolidating the number of units from 35 to 10.

Gardiner, the interim chairman of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit board, said he received the information from the Ministry of Health hours before Tuesday’s council meeting.

“Cornwall’s cost, shared amount, presently is $700,000. Under the new funding rules, the city’s share will be increased, due in the 2019-2020 (fiscal) year,” he said.

“Our budget has already been set and it’s going to cost this city $468,000 if they roll in the child care and the youth services and $307,000, which we didn’t budget for, which we will have to pay this year in 2019,” Gardiner said.

Gardiner is upset with the changes, saying there has been no consultation from the provincial government with municipalities or the health units.

While his colleagues were supportive, Gardiner was unsuccessful in getting council to back a resolution right away to ask the provincial government to reverse its proposed changes. The motion has been deferred.

Several councillors were wary of the numbers presented, even though Gardiner said he got them from the health unit CFO Frank Spagnolo and were later confirmed in a phone call from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. City CFO Tracey Bailey said she hasn’t been told directly of the impact of the health unit changes.

“They are not pulled out of the air,” Gardiner insisted. “I stand with the numbers that I put forward.”

Mayor Bernadette Clement, who is also on the health unit board, did not support the deferral. She is upset with the cuts. “In a smaller center, the health unit plugs in the gaps along the way so cuts to the health unit in this region are much more impactful (sic) for us because we rely on the health unit for those gaps.”

Coun. Carilyne Hebert pointed out that the provincial government announced infrastructure money to reduce hallway medicine in hospitals while at the same time cutting preventative health measures through the health units.