Statement from Councillor Joe Cressy, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health – New Provincial cuts to public health mean millions in budget shortfalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO – "Last week, Premier Ford announced a new round of cuts to life-saving public health services across Ontario. These cuts are short-sighted, harmful, and fiscally irresponsible. Make no mistake, these cuts will hurt people.

We now know that the new cuts to public health represent $14 million fewer provincial dollars every year for vital public health programs Torontonians rely on. Programs like school vaccinations, disease prevention, student breakfast programs, water quality testing, food safety inspections, and more. They result in a $4 million budget shortfall in 2020 alone, despite reliance on one-time mitigation measures from the province. And, they mean a shortfall of at least $14 million every year in 2021 and beyond.

The new round of cuts reduce provincial funding for all public health programs to 70%. Until last week, the Province of Ontario funded 100% of the costs of some public health programs and 75% of the costs of others. The new cuts mean programs like diabetes prevention, enhanced food safety and swim-safe initiatives, infection prevention, infectious disease control and more, previously funded 100% by the Province, will now receive 30% less provincial money. This, in addition to a reduction across the board for all the public health services that keep our communities safe and healthy.

The evidence is clear – cutting public health is both harmful, and fiscally irresponsible. Research has shown that every $1 invested in public health saves the healthcare system $16 in the future. And, addressing a provincial deficit by downloading costs onto municipalities is hardly sound financial management. One need only look to social housing and transit, which the city has struggled to fund alone since costs were downloaded by the province in the 1990s, to see this clearly.

Our Board of Health Budget Committee will consider the impact of the provincial cuts at our meeting on Tuesday September 3rd, at 1pm in Committee Room 1 at City Hall. As part of the 2020 Budget process we will, as always, be reviewing opportunities for cost savings. But, as the Chair of the Board of Health, under no circumstances am I prepared to accept cuts that negatively affect the health of Torontonians."

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Media Contact:

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