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Gélinas calls on Ford government to stop cuts to public health

Many programs will move from 100 per cent coverage to a 70-30 cost share on Jan. 1

During question period Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gélinas called on the Ford government’s Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, to cancel planned public health cuts.

“On Jan. 1, this government’s cuts to public health will come into effect,” said Gélinas.

“Despite the Premier hiring an adviser with a six-figure salary to hold consultations on the future of public health in Ontario. Can the Premier tell us why the government is still going ahead with cuts to public health even as they hold consultations on the future of public health?”

Although the Minister of Health is saying that there are no cuts to public health, the government’s new cost sharing formula tells a different story, said a press release from Gélinas.

Effective Jan. 1, 2020 Ontario’s public health units will move to a 70-30 cost share model. 

So programs that were previously 100 per cent covered by the Ontario government will only receive 70 per cent of their budget and municipalities will have to pay the remaining 30 per cent. 

Programs moving from 100 per cent coverage to the 70-30 cost share model include: Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Infectious Disease Control, Healthy Smiles Ontario, Smoke Free Ontario and Enhanced Food Safety, to name a few. 

“When will this government learn that the cut-first-consult-later approach is not working?” asked Gélinas. “It didn’t work in long-term care. It didn’t work in education. It didn’t work for children with autism. And it is not working for public health and the municipalities that are trying to deliver these critical services. 

In fact, because of the Conservative government’s cuts to public health, municipalities are now facing really tough decisions. Last week, Chatham-Kent municipal council said that the Premier’s cuts to public health and other municipal services will cost them $2.3 million, forcing them to consider raising property taxes. And Wednesday, Barrie’s city council approved increased property taxes because of the provincial cuts. Why is the Premier downloading their irresponsible public health cuts to municipalities?”

Every municipal government in Ontario that supports a public health unit will be required to find new funds to meet the government’s new formula, the press release said.

According to Minister Elliott, Public Health Units like Ottawa’s have found savings by eliminating vacant positions.