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For The Record - Airdrie & Area Health Benefits Co-operative

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For The Record – Airdrie & Area Health Co-operative

I want to clear the record about my thoughts and feelings regarding the Airdrie & Area Health Benefits Co-operative (Health Co-op).  I have heard it said that I am opposed to the Health Co-op. This is untrue. The organization is irrelevant; it’s the decision that I am at odds with. I am very much in favor of the community creating innovative solutions to local issues, and I applaud the community members involved in the Health Co-op for wanting to make a positive change in our community. However, I also believe that every group that comes to Council for funding should follow the same process – being a legal entity (at the November 21 meeting it was stated that the group is not a non-profit or charity – does that mean it’s a business?)  and having a business plan (which would include the outcomes the group will achieve that benefit the community) are nonnegotiable in my mind. No group should be considered for funding without at least these two items being in place.

The first issue I have with Council’s decision to fund the first two installments, totalling $150,000, (Council has approved a total of $450,000 for the Health Co-op – equivalent to roughly a .63% tax increase) to the Health Co-op is that at the time of this funding the Health Co-op was not a legal organization. In addition, at the time of this funding, the Health Co-op did not have a business plan, financial projections or stated outcomes that relate to the health and well-being of residents. (refer to page 201 of the agenda package from November 21, 2016). I can’t imagine that our Council would approve funding for any other group if it didn’t have at least a business plan in place. I would imagine that if a group came forward to Council looking for funding for an indoor skatepark for example, that Council would not consider this funding if the group was not a legal entity and did not have a business plan. Why then would the Health Co-op receive funding? I do not believe it is wise to use taxpayer’s dollars to fund a group that does not have a business plan or defined outcomes that benefit residents – would a banker approve a loan without this information?

I am well aware that our community wants improved medical services, and I do too, which is why I have been an active volunteer in health service delivery in Airdrie since 2012. I would argue that it is not reasonable for our municipality to fund health care services. I also firmly believe that the City of Airdrie must focus its funding on initiatives that are within its scope to provide as a municipality. Health care is an item that is covered in the provincial budget, not in the municipal budget; it is a provincial responsibility to provide health care. I have heard that municipal governments receive approximately 8 cents of every tax dollar to provide municipal services. Health care is very complex and extremely expensive, I think it is a slippery slope that the municipality puts itself on when it starts to fund items that belong in the provincial budget. The City of Airdrie could use more schools – should the municipality also consider funding schools? I don’t think many would agree with that use of our taxpayer’s dollars – we simply can’t afford it.