The chair of the Ottawa Board of Health is anticipating COVID-19 will be a permanent fixture in the city's public health budget, in some capacity, after the virus becomes endemic.
Keith Elgi expects COVID-19 to be part of public health's normal response, but unlike now, it will not be the at the forefront.
Once COVID-19 becomes endemic, he anticipates responding to the virus will be a regular budget line, similar to how the city handles flu shots.
"That may become a normal ask of the province in the funding process, to say, 'Okay, this is what we need this year to carry on our normal programs in regard to COVID,'" Egli told CityNews Ottawa's The Rob Snow Show on Tuesday.
The City of Ottawa's pandemic response has led to scaling back of some core public health services, but Egli says work is being done to address the reductions.
"We're focusing on bring back those programs to their full strength, making things available," he explained. "We've had to pivot in some ways, because COVID has not only drawn on resources but has changed the way we deliver programs as well."
The Board of Health approved its 2022 draft budget on Monday, which includes a $23-million increase from the previous year. A significant portion of the funding included in next year's budget has been earmarked for pandemic-related expenses.
"The lion's share is still focused on COVID response, and getting our young population vaccinated, rolling out the booster program," Elgi said.
The budget will rise to city council for final approval on Wednesday, December 8.
Listen to Egli's full conversation with Rob Snow: