Province Plans to Cut Public Health Funding, and Number of Health Units – Hamilton’s Health Unit on the Block

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The first budget of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Government lead by Premier Doug Ford states that Ontario’s 35 existing Public Health Units will be decreased to 10.

The provincial government says these cuts will lead “to annual savings of $200 million by 2021–22.” This represents a 27% cut to public health unit funding. [Page 277 of the 2019 Ontario Budget]

Global News provides the best report on the proposed changes.

Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, expressed concern about the cuts in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen.

Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (who was Associate MoH in Hamilton prior to being MoH in Middlesex-London) told CBC the cuts “will put real pressure on administrative costs but also front-line services”.

In both stories, Medical Officers of Health state there could be benefits from consolidation, as many smaller health units lack resources, and larger units could produce better coordination of services.

Hamilton’s public health unit geographical area of responsibility, matching the municipal boundary, is

Presently, the City of Hamilton’s public health unit’s boundary is just the City of Hamilton. The public health unit is fully controlled by Hamilton City Council, a model unique in Ontario.

There are two other public health units in Ontario which have boundaries matching single-tier municipal borders. Both Ottawa and Toronto have Boards of Health that include medicial experts on the Board. Hamilton’s Board of Health membership is the 16 members of Council, with Mayor Fred Eisenberger as Chair.

“Establish 10 regional public health entities and 10 new regional boards of health with one common governance model by 2020–21”, is on page 119 of the budget.

Hamilton’s Board of Health meets Monday afternoon, we should expect the first public statement from Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson at this meeting.

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Last edited: April 16, 2019
Author: Joey Coleman

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