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Local Health Unit Approves 2017 Budget

With no provincial increase to its base budget since 2014, the local health unit is asking the province and its funding municipalities for a two per cent increase this year to help offset rising operational costs.

At its meeting on February 16, the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit approved a total budget of $16,256,835. This includes the two per cent requested from the province, a total municipal contribution of $4,205,388, and one-time funding requests from the province totaling $177,492.

“Like the majority of health units in Ontario, our health unit has not received an increase from the province to our base funding since 2014,” Mary Catherine Masciangelo, Director of Corporate Services for the HKPR District Health Unit, told the Board. “While we have been working to decrease operational costs, we are still faced with increases to our annual operating expenses that are unavoidable.”

Under the current funding structure, 72 per cent of the Health Unit’s base cost-shared budget comes from the province and 28 per cent from the three funding municipalities of the area it serves – Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The Health Unit is also able to submit business cases to request one-time funding from the province for projects or services not covered by the operational budget.

Masciangelo told the Board that while the budget also seeks a two per cent increase from the province, direction from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to health units has been not to anticipate any additional growth funding.

“If we do not receive any increase from the province, we will not be seeking any additional money from the obligated municipalities, and will continue to implement changes to our budget to address the shortfall,” she said.

In her presentation of the budget to the Board of Heath, Masciangelo highlighted costs and decreases, including:

• a 1.5 per cent negotiated increase in salaries

• a 1.5 per cent increase in insurance costs

• $24,000 in dental consultation support after the departure of the Director of Dental Services

•$10,000 investment in infection prevention and control

• a $25,000 one-time investment in a replacement inspection database for the Environmental Health program

The Health Unit has also been working to decrease expenditures, she said, reducing occupancy costs of its leased buildings, and closing a branch office in Brighton. As well, some staff positions have been left vacant after people resigned or retired, including two program director positions vacated in 2016. With those vacancies and the need to further decrease administrative costs, the Health Unit is examining ways to redesign its organizational structure to capture efficiencies and ensure the organization is poised to meet future program and service requirements from the province.

To assist with that process, this year’s budget also includes a voluntary separation program (VSP) that offers an incentive for eligible non-union and management staff who may wish to resign or retire. Under the VSP, an allocation capped at $100,000 has been set aside to provide a small incentive for management and non-union staff to leave the organization, and staff accepted into the program must leave the Health Unit by December 31, 2017.
“This is just one more way in which we are working to implement improvements to our budget to address our funding shortfall from the ministry.” Masciangelo said

MOH Updates from January and February meeting:
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, provided information to the Board on the following items:
Vaccine Preventable Diseases (February): under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, the Health Unit must have up-to-date immunization records for all students in its area and ensure students attending school are immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough (pertussis). If any of these vaccines are missing, students can be suspended from school. During the first week of February, notices were sent to parents of area students with incomplete records indicating missed immunizations. If the records are not updated with the Health Unit during the next four weeks, school suspensions for students could start later this spring.
Food Safety and Healthy Eating (February): The Health Unit’s public health inspectors have received training to become designated officers under the enforcement arm of the Healthy Menu Choices Act. The legislation, which came into effect on January 1, 2017, requires restaurant chains and other food service providers with 20 or more locations to display calorie content and size of food and drink items offered on menus, menu boards and displays. The Act applies not only to quick service restaurants, but also to convenience stores, grocery stores, movie theatres or other businesses that prepare meals for immediate consumption, either on the premises or elsewhere. There are 79 establishments in the Health Unit’s area that meet the criteria for this new inspection.
Influenza (February): A report on the local 2015-2016 season influenza activity showed the number of cases reported that season was lower than the previous three years, and that the majority of cases reported were Influenza A. Locally, there was a total of 34 institutional respiratory outbreaks (12% were caused by Influenza A) reported during that season, which was also lower than the total for the previous season. Approximately 27.2 per cent of HKPR residents received the annual immunization during the 2015/2016 influenza season, which was a lower rate than the previous season.
2015 Annual Report video (January): The Health Unit’s 2015 Annual Report video was presented to the Board and provided information on the work of Health Unit staff completed that year. The video is posted on the Health Unit’s YouTube channel, with a link from its website, and will be shared with all Northumberland County, the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton County councils.
Public Health Expert Panel (January): The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care announced the establishment of a Public Health Expert Panel to provide him with strategic and confidential advice regarding structural and organizational factors to improve the integration of public health into the health system, and deepen the partnerships between local boards of health and the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).
Little Chefs of CKL (January): Last summer, the Health Unit partnered with Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes Community Health Centre to provide a cooking program for children and youth. The goal was to help children learn food skills and become healthy eaters. The full day session featured hands-on learning for the children to experience cooking and learn some basic recipes.

New Business:
Election of Officers (January): At the January Board meeting, Mark Lovshin was re-appointed Chair of the Board of Health for 2017. Mr. Lovshin is the Mayor of Hamilton Township and has been the Chair for the previous seven years. Gil Brocanier was appointed Vice-Chair of the Board of Health. Mr. Brocanier is the Mayor of Cobourg.
New Board of Health Members (January and February): The Board welcomed new member John Logel to the February meeting. Mr. Logel is a new representative from Northumberland County. At the January meeting, the Board welcomed Brian Junkin, a new representative from CKL who replaced Mr. Doug Elmslie.
At the January meeting, Board members approved a motion to ask the province to ensure its regulation regarding the number of members required to represent funding municipalities on the board is representative of the area’s population. The motion came after the Board was reviewing a change to its own policy on the composition of the Board of Health. The provincial regulation currently requires three municipal representatives from Northumberland County, two representatives from the City of Kawartha Lakes and one representative from Haliburton County. Traditionally there had only been two representatives from Northumberland County and the County had sought to reduce the number required in the provincial regulation. Instead, the province asked the County to fill the vacant spot from Northumberland, leading representatives from CKL to question whether that municipality should also have three representatives as it has a comparable population to Northumberland.
Operating Statements: Approved, a motion to accept the draft operating statement for the HKPR District Health Unit. As of December 31, 2016, the Health Unit had overall expenditures of $18,019,972.
Financial Controls Checklist: Approved, a motion to receive the new Financial Controls Checklist. The checklist is a tool to be used to evaluate the type of financial controls used by the Health Unit to ensure an effective and efficient use of business practices.

Harm Reduction Programs (February): The Board of Health received a presentation on the Health Unit’s harm reduction programs. Joanne Paynter, a Sexual Health Nurse with HKPR, Leslie McLaughlin, a Public Health Nurse in HKPR’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention program, and Chris Jardin, a Prevention/Education Co-ordinator with the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network (PARN) spoke on the importance of harm reduction as a way to provide respectful, non-judgemental approaches to reducing harms associated with people’s behavior. Harm reduction programs are evidence-based, cost-effective and work because they provide services in locations used by the people who need them, rather than making people travel to access services. As well, the Health Unit is mandated by the province to implement a variety of harm reduction programs including providing sterile needles, syringes and inhalation kits to help prevent injury and death from substance misuse. In their presentation, the group provided information on the rates of prescription opioid use and opioid-related deaths for the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County, and highlighted the Health Unit’s Fentanyl Patch 4 Patch program, the Naloxone distribution program, the Needle Exchange program and the Health Unit’s role in the newly created HKPR Drug Strategy.
Environmental Health Court Case (January): Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of the Health Unit’s Environmental Health program, provided an overview of a recent court case the Health Unit was involved in and the subsequent resolution. In the presentation, Ovcharovich highlighted the sometime challenging work Public Health Inspectors face in enforcing legislation around safe food and water.
Next Board Meeting: The next Board of Health meeting is scheduled for March 16 at 10 am in the Health Unit’s Lindsay office at 108 Angeline Street South.

For media inquiries, contact:

Chandra Tremblay, Manager, Communications Services, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 ext. 1212.

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