Public Health Units from across Ontario Speak Out Against Provincial Government Cuts to Public Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Public Health Units from across Ontario Speak Out Against Provincial Government Cuts to Public Health

TORONTO – Public Health Units from across Ontario are speaking out against the Provincial Government’s proposed cuts to public health. From Stratford to Thunder Bay, Haliburton to Ottawa, they have formally registered opposition, written letters, and spoken out publicly, while even more are asking for more information after the sudden cuts to public health funding across the province were unveiled.

The Association of Local Public Health Agencies, who represents all 35 Public Health Units and Medical Officers of Health in Ontario, has spoken out, underscoring their deep concern with the significant reduction in the provincial contribution to public health funding, taking effect retroactively this year.

“Public Health services are vital to the health of every single Ontarian. They save lives today, and tomorrow,” said Councillor Joe Cressy, Chair of Toronto’s Board of Health. “These cuts endanger the health of our communities, and they must be reversed.”

“Ottawa Public Health delivers core health services to the residents of our City. Its numerous programs contribute to the health and wellness of our residents,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health. “The proposed plan to reduce the number of local health agencies and the accompanying reduction in public health funding will negatively impact the good work that is done on the ground to meet local needs.”

The cuts, first mentioned in the April 11 Provincial Budget, include eliminating 25 public health units across the province and significant changes to the provincial funding formula for public health - going from the current 75/25 provincial/municipal cost-share, to 50/50 for Toronto, and 70/30 or 60/40 in other regions across the province.

Kathryn Wilson, Chair of the Board of Health for Peterborough expressed her serious concern that the province’s plans to cut public health funding by 27% and consolidate 35 health units into 10 will disconnect local municipalities and First Nations from their role in ensuring effective public health programs.

“The success of public health is driven by its connection to the community,” explained Kathryn Wilson, Board Chair of Peterborough Public Health and Councillor for Hiawatha First Nation. “In a province as diverse as Ontario, this proposed model will severely undermine the ability of municipalities and First Nations to contribute to public health governance.”

So far, those speaking out include: Toronto City Council and Ottawa City Council, who have met and formally voted to oppose the cuts, and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge District Health Unit, and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, who have written to the Provincial Government or publicly registered their opposition to public health cuts in their communities.

Representatives from Hamilton, Sudbury and Manitoulin, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, Chatham-Kent, Perth County, Windsor-Essex County, and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, have also expressed concerns with the province’s plans.

And, individual Boards of Health and City Councils in other districts are convening meetings to formally respond.

“Our local public health unit is on the front lines of preventing disease and promoting health for the residents of Perth County," said Kathy Vassilakos, Chair of the Perth District Health Unit. "We have expressed our concerns with the announced changes to public health in Ontario and are waiting to receive information from the Ministry on how they will be executed. Our biggest concern is how changes in funding and consolidation of public health entities could affect essential public health programs.”

Research has shown that for every dollar invested in immunization, results in $16 of health care savings. For every dollar invested in tobacco prevention, results in $20 of health care savings. The list goes on and on.

Public health units have underscored that the best way to prevent hallway health care and improve the health of Ontarians is to invest more, not less, in public health. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit wrote “improving access to health care services and ending “hallway medicine” is an important vision we all share but will never be achieved unless we address why people are getting sick in the first place.”

 

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Media Contact: Lia Brewer – Office of Councillor Joe Cressy: lia.brewer@toronto.ca 416-392-4044

Letters included above can be found on the Association of Local Public Health Agencies Website.