By not picking up the cost of public health services in its 2008 budget, the province may have thrown Ottawa’s budget into turmoil.
With council considering how to manage a $23-million shortfall for snow removal, it must now also discuss what to do about a $10-million bill for public health services it assumed Queen’s Park would pick up.
Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson said the province did not assume public health costs because it remains under review by the Associations of Municipalities of Ontario and their report is not due until June.
"It would have been ... premature," he said.
Mayor Larry O’Brien said Ontario has taken steps to upload those costs, and thought it would still be announced.
"I think they’ve got a plan," he said. "I’d be very surprised if they didn’t take additional steps in uploading as a result of the review."
Coun. Alex Cullen said Ontario has recognized the need to upload public health costs. He said the city must just wait for the review.
However, Coun. Clive Doucet (Capital) said he anticipates this will blow budget discussions wide open.
"There are people talking about taking the $5 million for the concert hall and putting that toward snow removal," he said.
O’Brien is confident that when the report is finalized, there will be provincial money for a residential drug treatment facility, also.
"So far they’ve been very good with their word. Let’s just let that one unfold," he said.