County okays more public health funding

Elgin councillors at a meeting Tuesday, July 25, voted 6-3 to approve an additional $15,313 a month in funding to Southwestern Public Health for the rest of this year, though that additional support is contingent on St. Thomas and Oxford County approving extra money as well.

However, as County Solicitor Nick Loeb pointed out, the health unit wasn’t seeking approval for its mid-year budget increase, but was essentially presenting a bill that the county, as well as St. Thomas and Oxford, were obliged to pay.

Earlier this year, a new public health board, mainly made up of representatives from the three municipalities, expressed shock at indicators that the Southwest area exceeded provincial averages in such categories as opioid abuse, alcohol abuse and teen pregnancies.

Board members ordered an immediate review of additional measures that could start to bring down the alarming numbers and adopted them on June 22.

Those measures required a $255,500 increase in the health unit’s levy on municipalities for the remainder of this year, and an additional $766,500 for every year after that. Elgin’s share would be about $183,000 a year.

Not all county council members supported the additional funding, though.

More details in the Aug. 2 edition of The Aylmer Express.