The Ontario government is slashing Toronto Public Health’s funding by $1 billion over a decade as part of a plan to consolidate local public health units across the province, says the chair of the city’s board of health – a move that’s prompting an outcry from city officials.
Chair Joe Cressy said the board was informed of a change in the cost-sharing structure from Premier Doug Ford’s government on Thursday afternoon, which he said amounts to an immediate $86-million hole in its latest budget.
The funding cut will impact various programs, he added, including infectious disease initiatives, communicable disease surveillance, immunization programs, food safety and water quality initiatives, as well as sexual health promotion.
“People will die,” Cressy said. “People are going to die.”
In last week’s provincial budget, the Ford government first outlined plans to chop the number of local health units from 35 to 10 over the next two years, coupled with an annual overall funding reduction of $200 million.
TPH alone has a gross operating budget of more than $250 million, with roughly three-quarters of the funding coming from the province — an element now set to change.
Cressy said various TPH programs fully funded by the province are eventually going to be hit by a 50 per cent cut. Other programs funded roughly 75 per cent by the province and 25 per cent by the city will also drop to a 50-50 split.
Starting immediately, he said, the cost-sharing will be a 60-40 split, with a different model for other units across the province.