6/7/13

Ambulances and Public Health get cash (while other sectors starve)



From time to time there are rumors that EMS (ambulance services) and municipal public health services may move over to the tender mercies of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), which fund hospitals, home care, long term care, and other health services.

Fortunately-- for these services -- that has not happened yet.  

The government is starving the LHINs.  According to the recently released Budget Estimates, the LHINs are going to get $300 million less than what they got two years ago.

In contrast, public health services (provided by municipalities but funded to a considerable extent by the province) are budgeted to get about a 6.4% increase from the provincial coffers this year.   Over the last two years the increase is 12.2%. 

Not too bad.

"Emergency Health Services" (aka EMS) are also largely provided by municipalities but funded almost 50% by the province.  And EMS has also done okay, with a 3.8% increase this year according to the Estimates. Over the last two years, the increase is an impressive 9.2%, continuing a long trend that has seen big increases for ambulances. 

While the increases are significant, the funding for EMS and public health remains small potatoes compared to what the LHINs get -- at about $1.5 billion together they are about 6.5% of the LHIN budget.  

But they are big enough that they might help ease the pain of a $300 million cut.  

Bottom line for EMS and public health:  if the Borg ever gets them in its mitts, they might look like tempting little morsels. 

Provincial Programs: With most of the new Budget money going to the doctors, the tradition of handing over major increases to the murky Budget line item called "Provincial Programs" (and especially the sub-line item "Community and Priority Services") has come to an end.  

The total increase here is a measly $42 million -- a little more than a 1% increase, about the same as the overall increase for health care.   The previous year saw a $1.5 billion increase to this line item (an eye-popping 69% increase).  

Effectively the government had put the LHINs in charge of saying no to everyone, while leaving themselves some cash to play with.  

Now? Not so much. 

Photo by Xiaozhuli .  The Ottawa EMS base.

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