City officials want Ford to reverse $1-billion cuts to Toronto Public Health

Apr 24 2019, 5:01 pm

After the Ford government announced it was slashing $1-billion in funding to Toronto Public Health over the next decade, the board of health chair and city councillor, Joe Cressy, is calling on the province to reverse the cuts.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Cressy said the cuts to Toronto’s public health are “short-sighted, harmful, and wrong and they must be reversed.”

While the cuts would span over the next decade, they will be felt deeply across the city’s health unit, says Cressy, adding, “people will die. That’s not rhetoric, it’s a fact. This announcement is callous, it is cruel, and it is short-sighted.”

The programs impacted the most include water safety testing, disease prevention, immunization monitoring, overdose prevention, prenatal support, and infectious disease control.

“If the province wants to end hallway healthcare as they say, they need to invest in public health. Investing in public health prevents illnesses and outbreaks, and creates healthy communities,” said Cressy.

“The province can and should do the right thing and reverse the cuts.”

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David Mitchell, the president of CUPE 79, the union that represents more than 1000 Toronto public health staff and thousands of Toronto hospital workers, warned today that Ford’s drastic cut to public health “puts Torontonians’ safety at risk and will ultimately fuel hallway medicine.”

“There is not a single person in Toronto who doesn’t benefit from the protections and safety derived from the services that Toronto Public Health staff provide residents each day,” says Mitchell.

Preventable communicable diseases will spread and death rates will rise if the province follows through with these cuts, he added.

Following Cressy’s announcement, Mayor John Tory said the cuts, which are retroactive to April 1 of this year, have been done without any consultation. Tory added the cuts would amount to $64 million starting this year.

“This is an incredibly serious funding change which puts our city’s health at risk and will put lives at risk here in Toronto and across the province,” said Mayor John Tory, in a statement.

Provincial Minister of Health Christine Elliott took to Twitter Wednesday to voice her opinion on the cuts.

“Let me be clear: the financial impact of these updates will amount to one-third of a percentage point of the City of Toronto’s annual budget — hardly a billion dollars,” she tweeted.

“The Health Protection and Promotion Act is abundantly clear that municipalities have always been responsible for funding public health,” she continued.

“Regardless, we will continue to do our part and I have every expectation that Toronto Public Health will continue to be properly funded.”

Cressy, was quick to call Elliott out, adding today’s announcement is “not fear mongering, it’s fact.”