NDP to Ford: listen to experts before cutting public health

QUEEN’S PARK — Bhutila Karpoche, Ontario NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said the NDP has listened to experts describe the disastrous consequences if the Ford Conservatives go ahead with deep cuts to public health — and wants Doug Ford to listen, too.

It has been just over a week since news broke of the Conservatives’ attempt to quietly cut public health units all over the province. The deep funding decreases will mean a whopping $1-billion loss for Toronto Public Health. In that short time, experts have lined up to denounce the Conservatives’ cuts to public health as dangerous, including physicians, school board officials and the former Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Make no mistake: Cuts to public health put people’s lives at risk,” said Karpoche. “Public health units perform vital work to keep Ontario families healthy and safe, like making sure kids are up to date on their immunizations and managing outbreaks of life-threatening infections like the measles.

“Experts say slashing public health units could mean the next SARS outbreak and Walkerton tragedy won’t be averted. We can’t allow Doug Ford to drag Ontario backwards with cuts to front-line care, putting people at risk.”

Not only are the Ford Conservatives cutting public health funding and expecting municipalities to pick up the slack, but the Conservatives are reducing the number of public health units in the province to 10, down from 35. The cuts to public health come as the Conservatives move to implement a broader health-care scheme that siphons public dollars away from front-line care.

“Ontario families deserve to know that public health units have the funding to keep their loved ones healthy and safe, and a health-care system that will provide quality care when their loved ones do fall ill,” said Ontario NDP Health critic France Gélinas. “We should be working to improve our health-care system, not making things worse with cuts to front-line care.”

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