County to press province for improved funding for Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

 

essex_county_seal copyBy Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex is giving it another try in pressing the province for a better funding model for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU).

County council received a copy of a letter from Windsor-Essex County Health Unit chair Gary McNamara identifying “some of the issues being faced under the current funding framework” with McNamara, also mayor of Tecumseh, wanting similar support from his county council colleagues.

McNamara cited “an ongoing erosion” as it relates to capital funding from the Ontario government and believed a letter from county council would “encourage the new government to look at the funding model.”

McNamara’s letter on behalf of the WECHU states the belief that the current provincial/municipal funding framework “results in inequitable funding among health units and an inability to maintain any kind of surplus from unspent provincial grants/funding.”

The letter, sent to the four major provincial party leaders, also cites 2012 ministry data that shows the WECHU received $30.04 per capita from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the lowest per capita health unit funding in Ontario. The highest amount of funding per capita for a health unit is $81.97 with the average being $48.21. McNamara also wrote that the “Windsor-Essex County jurisdiction has some of the poorest health indicators in the province. Our rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, physical activity and unhealthy food consumption all exceed the provincial average.”

McNamara also noted the WECHU approves its budget in January with the provincial contribution unknown until summer, with the actual cash flow not occurring until fall or winter.

Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst wondered if sending a letter would be the correct course of action.

“We’ve talked about this for many years,” said Hurst.

Hurst said letters have been sent through the years but the problem of WECHU underfunding still exists.

“It appears it’s all for naught,” he said.

Warden Tom Bain believed sending a letter would be a “great idea” for Essex County to do.

“It has been a long-standing problem,” said Bain.

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