Huron East mayor questions province’s shift in health care funding responsibilities

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The degree to which counties and lower-tier municipalities cover health care costs has always been an issue for Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan.

Since his appointment to an AMO Health Care Task Force, MacLellan has been more vocal in his contention that property taxes were never intended to cover health care costs because that is a provincial responsibility.

MacLellan said the county and its municipalities have been involved in health costs to some degree in the past, but it was always with the understanding that would be limited to capital costs and the province would look after operating costs. MacLellan said that seems to be changing.

“The province seems to be backing off on some of those things, as in the latest request that we’ve had is to actually do an upgrade to capital that was put in eight years ago and now we’ve had to put county money back in towards that,” he said.

MacLellan said that means they’re now using property taxes to cover operating costs in health care, and that hasn’t been the case in the past.

“AMO has had these calls from other areas across the province, so the question is, is there anything we can do about it, or do we let our health care slide, or do we just bite the bullet and say your property taxes are now going to something that they never had to pay for before,” he said.