The Board of Health of the Grey Bruce Health Unit has adopted a financially responsible budget for 2022 that will ensure the effective and efficient delivery of regular public health programs and services, while including allocations for ongoing COVID-related expenses.
The $19.4-million budget includes about $3.4 million in one-time provincial funding for costs related to COVID-19 case and contact management, the COVID-19 vaccine program and recovery/resumption of services and programs. That amount is 27 per cent less than the one-time funding requested for 2021.
Of particular note, the 2022 budget does not require an increase in funding from Grey and Bruce counties. This is the fourth straight year that county costs for public health have remained unchanged.
The combined county allocation is $2.86 million, with Grey County contributing $1.67 million and Bruce County contributing $1.19 million, based on population share.
“Management has done a fantastic job of building a budget that is both conservative and flexible in a year of uncertainty due to COVID-19,” says Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra.
“This budget was created utilizing both top-down and zero-based budgeting approaches.”
In 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Grey Bruce Health Unit managed to mount an emergency response with provincial extraordinary funding equivalent to only six per cent of its base budget.
For 2021, public health navigated the first full year of the pandemic, which included a mass COVID-19 vaccination program rollout, while requiring extraordinary funding of only about 28 per cent of its base budget.
“The health unit increased its productivity multiple folds during the pandemic with only a minimal increase in its budget. Besides the excellent financial and operational management, one of the strategies has been mobilizing the community and partners to engage in the emergency response, which is a best practice in public health,” Dr. Arra says.
“We are grateful for the support of community partners, municipalities and volunteers who assisted with our mass immunization program. Municipalities donated space for our Hockey Hub clinics, volunteers provided a helping hand at the clinics and community partners were generous with their support,” says Board of Health chair Sue Paterson.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit’s efficient pandemic response required only $1.9 million in additional provincial funding to provide first, second and booster dose COVID-19 vaccines to all residents who wanted them in 2021 and case, contact and outbreak management required $1.7 million in provincial funding. Both of these responses required an additional expense that was 23 per cent less than anticipated.