News / Ottawa

Public Health budget faces pressure from rise in overdoses and inspections

The overall increase in the organization's budget from 2016 is 1.5 per cent.

The Ottawa Public Health budget is going to council for approval next month.

metro file

The Ottawa Public Health budget is going to council for approval next month.

Ottawa Public Health is moving ahead next week with its draft budget, with numbers up for discussion at Monday night's board meeting.

The report going to the board says most cities are “fiscally constrained” right now, and the budget has tried to control costs through administrative and program reviews.

The organization’s draft budget for 2017 is $59.7 million, with a slight increase of City of Ottawa funds and provincial funds. The overall increase from 2016 is 1.5 per cent.

Despite the increase, the report notes that there are pressures facing the organization, such as: the country-wide fentanyl and overdose crisis; stricter health inspections; and the demands of the city’s 2017 celebrations.

“A significant increase in provincial and national drug overdoses and deaths due to overdose is creating an emerging public health crisis,” says the report. “Requiring enhanced outreach to vulnerable populations, data sharing, awareness campaigns and distribution of Naloxone kits.”

Changes to public health inspections are also putting pressure on the organization’s staff. The report notes that rabies reports now need to be investigated within 24 hours and OPH received 30 per cent more calls in 2016.

Instead of filling empty administrative positions, the OPH will assign five new public health inspectors to deal with the demand.

Similar to the police board budget, the cost of 2017 celebrations is also a concern. Public Health estimates the extra demand could cost an extra $300,000.

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