The board of health for the Northwestern Health Unit held its final meeting of the year on Nov. 26.
Eight of the current board members were municipal appointees whose terms ended Nov. 30.
The board expects to have some new faces at its first meeting of the new year, scheduled for Jan. 31 in Dryden.
Board chair John Albanese praised the current board members for their dedication to public health, and for the board’s accomplishments over the past four years.
“At the beginning of 2007, our medical officer of health announced his pending retirement,” recalled Albanese.
“In the intervening four years, we have not only recruited a new medical officer of health, Dr. Jim Arthurs, but we have also restructured our entire management team,” he noted.
“Concurrent with the organizational restructuring, we have expanded our public health services, upgraded our offices, and have become an accredited health unit through the Ontario Council on Community Health Accreditation,” Albanese added.
At the board’s final meeting, management presented a preliminary budget for 2011, which factors a $204,000 reduction in revenue from municipal levies.
CEO Mark Perrault explained that as part of the board of health’s strategic direction, the municipal per capita levy has been frozen since 2005.
According to the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., the population for the health unit’s 19 obligated municipalities has dropped by 3,766 from previous statistics, resulting in an anticipated overall decrease of $204,607 in their municipal levies for 2011.
“Management is committed to preparing a balanced budget for 2011 that will maintain the current level of public health programs and services provided to the communities and population of our region,” Perrault stressed.
The health unit’s final consolidated 2011 budget will be presented to the board of health at its February meeting.
Also at the board’s Nov. 26 meeting, it approved a proposal by Perrault to freeze his salary grid for the next two years.
Employees at the health unit have had their wages frozen from March 24, 2010 until April 1, 2012 under the Ontario government’s Public Sector Compensation Restraint to Protect Public Services Act, 2010 (Bill 16, Schedule 25).
While the act does allow some exceptions, including movement on established salary grids, Perrault noted many staff are at the top of their salary grids and will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment for more than two years.
As such, it seemed inequitable for him to continue to move along his salary grid, which spans the years 2008-13.
“The board was very appreciative of the offer and the leadership that Mr. Perrault has shown,” Albanese said.