David Townsend was not surprised by the announcement on Tuesday that the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINS) are going to be shut down and a new super-agency will be established in their place to oversee healthcare funding in Ontario.
Townsend is the Executive Director of Southern Frontenac Community Services Corporation (SFCSC), which receives the bulk of its funding from the Southeast LHIN, which is based in Belleville. The Southeast LHIN provides an annual grant to SFCSC to deliver a basket of services under the banner of Community Support Services. These services include an adult day program for the frail elderly, as well as meals on wheels, diners club, foot care, respite care, home help, and caregiver support.
“We have not heard anything directly from anyone,” Townsend said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon (February 26), “but it seems to be the case that these programs will be delivered through some kind of regionally based agency. The services will not go away, but Southern Frontenac Community Services will likely not be delivering them any more. Without the funding for administration that comes from our contact with the LHINS to deliver Community Support Services, it will difficult for us to keep going as an agency.
SFCSC runs a food bank which is community funded, delivers homelessness prevention services under contract with the City of Kingston, and runs the Grace Social Activity Centre, which is also community funded.
While Townsend is confident that the community support services for seniors will still be delivered once the LHIN’s are disbanded, he is less certain about these other SFCSC programs.
“Without the admin funding from the LHINS, our agency is certainly at risk,” he said.
Townsend added that he has been up front with the SFCSC Board of Directors about the implications of the demise of the LHIN’s on the agency.
“You can’t fight this,” he said. “it’s a provincial initiative. The important thing is to make sure the services that SFCSC delivers now, are still being delivered a year from now, whether it is run by us or someone else.”
As far as the other services that SFCSC delivers and the Grace Centre itself, the future is less certain.