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Grey Bruce Health Unit facing funding shift and consolidation

The mayor of Brockton is warning of job losses at the Grey Bruce Health Unit if the provincial government moves ahead with proposed changes to public health funding.

Chris Peabody sits on the board of health and said the changes to public health proposed by the Ford government are the most drastic of any provincial portfolio to date.

Peabody said there’s little detail as to how the province plans to reduce the number of health units from 35 down to 10, but warned job cuts are coming if the Grey Bruce Health Unit is consolidated with other public health entities.

“There’s few details, I presume the front line workers would still service Brockton from Guelph or London or Kitchener, but all of the support staff from the Grey Bruce Health Unit could lose their job,” said Peabody.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra said the province has already cut its share of public health funding from a 75-25 per cent split with municipalities down to a 70-30 per cent split, with plans to reduce the provincial share to as low as 60 per cent.

He added the province is also proposing to shift funding for programs that were previously fully funded by the provincial government to a 70-30 per cent funding share with municipalities, which is covered by county tax levies in Bruce and Grey County.

“A reduction in the amount provided by the province and the change in the shared agreement with the municipalities, which means the municipalities would have to come up with the difference or if they don’t, the services might fall short of meeting the local needs,” said Arra.

Peabody estimated Bruce County taxpayers would be required to pay an additional $568,000 to maintain service levels if the province follows through with the funding shift.