The Sudbury health unit seeks approval for an operating budget of $28 million for 2022.

·3 min read

The Sudbury health unit is seeking approval for an operating budget of more than $28 million for 2022.

The motion for approval was included in the pre-agenda that was published for the upcoming Board of Health meeting that takes place this coming Thursday afternoon.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) is recommending approval of an annual operating and services budget of $28,020,382 for the coming year, an increase of 2.02 per cent over the 2021 local public health budget.

"The proposed 2022 operating budget takes into account the ongoing requirement for Public Health to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the increasing pressure to reinstate programs that were reduced or suspended as a result of staff redeployment to support the COVID-19 response," PHSD said in the budget summary.

"The recommended 2022 operating budget continues to include one-time mitigation funding of up to $1,179,500 from the MOH (Ministry of Health) to offset the change to the funding formula announced in 2019. It includes an increase to assorted municipalities of $593,893 (a seven per cent increase)," said the PHSD report.

There are 18 member municipalities that support the health unit, including Greater Sudbury and several other nearby communities.

The pre-agenda report also said there are no enhancements in the 2022 budget recommendation and any increases are the result of fixed costs. The report said "significant increases in the inflation rate are driving fixed cost increases."

The report also stated that because of the ongoing pandemic, many PHSD programs and services were suspended or reduced in 2020 and in 2021.

"In 2021, approximately 75 per cent of base staffing resources were shifted to support the Public Health pandemic response. In this year, the COVID-19 response has included the vaccination program as well as the management of cases, contacts and outbreaks of COVID-19. Of the projected $33 million in total COVID-19 expenses, approximately half is funded through the cost-shared budget and half through the province’s COVID-19 extraordinary fund," said the report.

The document also revealed that increased staffing and increased overtime was required to deliver the vaccine programs

"PHSD increased its staffing complement to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine and CCM (contact and case management) programs. The increase was achieved through a combination of temporary staff recruitment (projected at $4,288,450) and significant overtime for permanent staff (projected at $4,161,060)," said the report.

The health unit summary also stated there was "evidence of negative impacts on staff wellbeing" that is related to the intensity, duration, and work hours on staff. The report said the Board has been apprised that a more sustainable balance is being pursued for the way forward.

The report also said there is "mounting pressure" to recalibrate public health programs (mental health, addictions) to address the backlog caused by the pandemic.

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com

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