Huron Perth Health Unit merger will cost Huron County more

The new board of health for the new Huron Perth Public Health met for the first time on January 2nd. Back row, from left: Dr. Miriam Klassen (Medical Officer of Health), Paul Robinson, Todd Kasenburg, Jim Ferguson, Bernie MacLellan, Myles Murdock, Bob Wilhelm. Front row, from left: Dave Jewitt, Kathy Vassilakos, Marg Luna, Bonnie Henderson. Photo courtesy of Huron Perth Public Health.

Huron County’s Treasurer says changes to the provincial public health modernization program will add to the cost of the merger of the Huron and Perth Health Units.

Michael Blumhagen said under the terms of the merger, Huron County will only be required to pay it’s share of the costs of the new health unit, along with Perth County, the City of Stratford and the Town of St. Marys.

“We had a number of hundred per cent funded programs at the health unit and other ones that were 75 – 25 per cent cost-shared. The province has now changed that to all programs are now 70 – 30 cost-shared, so the municipality is on the hook for the 30 per cent,” he said.

Blumhagen says the province contributed a million dollars in one-time funding to help with the merger for 2020, but he says that money won’t be provided beyond that, so there will be a significant increase in 2021.

“So for 2021, we’re actually going to see a pretty significant increase in terms of the dollars required for the health unit because there was approximately a million dollars, I believe, in terms of one-time funding that was applied to the 2020 budget, which we won’t have in 2021.”