ontario public health

Pressure mounts on Doug Ford to reverse cuts to public health

Ten former Ontario Ministers of Health from all three major political parties are calling upon the province's current government to reconsider its steep, sweeping cuts to public health programs.

"Public health services prevent disease outbreaks, keep our water clean, vaccinate our children, and provide school breakfast programs to children in need," reads a joint open letter from the group of politicians. "The 2019 Ontario budget puts this vital work at risk."

Addressed to Doug Ford's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Christine Elliott, the letter goes on to decry the billions of dollars in planned health care spending cuts as dangerous and nonsensical.

"Municipalities from across the province have been clear that they cannot make up the difference created by these cuts," the letter continues. "This cutting of public health services cannot go forward. It puts the prosperity of our communities and of our entire Province at risk. Funding must be restored."

Roughly $1 billion is being cut from the public health budget over the next 10 years in Toronto alone, where the PC government is slashing cost-sharing levels from 100 per cent to just 50 per cent. 

Elsewhere in the province, public health agencies will see their cost-sharing go from 100 per cent to 60, 70 or 75 per cent, depending on the size of a region. The government has also decided to merge 35 public health agencies across the province into just 10.

Ford says that these cuts should save Ontario some $200 million per year by 2022 — but at what cost?

"Public health helps Ontarians stay healthy, so they don't need to go to the doctor, or a hospital, saving time and money," state the former health ministers in their letter, stating that the cuts make "no economic sense."

"If the government wants to end hallway medicine, as you have pledged, one of the best ways to do that is to actually invest more, not less, in public health," the letter continues. "We need only look back to the SARS epidemic to realize the devastating impact of failing to invest in public health."

Signatories of the letter include Liberal politicians Dr. Eric Hoskins, Dr. Helena Jaczek, David Caplan, Elinor Caplan, Deb Matthews and George Smitherman, NDPs Evelyn Gigantes, Ruth Grier and Frances Lankin, as well as former PC MPP Dennis Timbrell.

"Traditionally, Ministers of Health have avoided commenting on the policies of their successors. Health has been seen as a non-partisan issue — something we all support," the group notes.

"This attack on public health has prompted us to break our silence."

Lead photo by

Doug Ford 

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