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Board meeting notes March 21, 2012

Mar 29, 2012
Board okays leaner health unit budget Tight funding, high expectations for public health in years ahead

Board okays leaner health unit budget

Pending provincial approval expected in the early summer, the health unit will be operating on a budget with a 3 per cent increase this year. The $28.8-million budget was approved on March 21.

The approved budget incorporates a new cost-sharing arrangement imposed by the province to manage the small drinking water systems in the region. Prior to this year, all costs for the program had been borne by the province; this year 25 per cent of the costs are being carried by municipalities. In Simcoe and Muskoka the health unit assesses and monitors the testing and operations for about 850 small drinking water systems.

The 2012 budget takes into account the fiscal reality facing the province and the recommendations of the Drummond Report. It preserves service delivery by maintaining the current level of staffing while holding the line on operating expenses. With the continued growth of the population of Simcoe Muskoka, the impact of growth on service delivery will have to be addressed within the current staffing complement.

"This is a restraint budget,” said board of health chair Barry Ward. “There are always things you'd like to do but can't afford and that is especially true this year when governments and taxpayers are closely watching their pennies. Having said that, I believe the board has approved a budget carefully prepared by staff that ensures all services are being maintained or even enhanced. We'll continue to work together to promote the health of residents in our area."

 

Tight funding, high expectations for public health in years ahead

A briefing on the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s priorities for 2012 indicated that some vacant staffing positions will remain gapped through the year to help hold down costs. Environmental “green” policies, which are introducing more teleconference options for meetings, are helping to reduce mileage costs and staff travel time.

The popular healthy schools program, which provides assistance to schools to optimize student health and learning potential, will face challenges to meet plans for expansion into new schools with the current staffing complement. Measures to protect personal health information continue to be a high priority and will be ongoing this year to meet the requirements of the provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The health unit will also become more actively involved in social determinants of health, a field that focuses on social issues such as income, poverty, education and social support networks and how those factors might create barriers to optimal health.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place April 18
at 9:15 a.m. in the Orillia Common Roof, 169 Front St. S.


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