The Kington, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (KFL&A) Board of Health has issued the following statement outlining its concerns about the Ford government’s plans to restructure public health:
KFL&A Board of Health is requesting the province of Ontario maintain and augment the health protection, promotion, and prevention mandate of KFL&A Public Health. Furthermore, we request the province of Ontario maintain the current 75 per cent provincial, 25 per cent municipal funding formula for KFL&A Public Health and public health programs in Ontario. We request that the province of Ontario stop planned reduction of Ontario public health units from 35 to 10 and the planned reduction by $200 million from public health and instead initiate consultations with municipalities and public health agencies on the public health system in Ontario. Finally, we have directed the Medical Officer of Health and the staff of KFL&A Public Health to work with the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) to coordinate and support their efforts to respond to cuts to public health in Ontario. We called upon the municipalities that fund KFL&A Public Health to do the same.
Ontario’s local public health system is an essential part of keeping communities safe and healthy. Public health delivers excellent return on investment and works on the front line to protect our communities from illness and promote health and wellbeing. The services provided by public health are vital and address the local needs, including food and water safety, infectious disease tracking and prevention, immunizations, prenatal classes to postnatal visits, overdose prevention, and many more. Public health programs and services reduce the demands on other partners in the acute health care system such as hospitals and clinics.
The Ontario government made the surprise announcement in the recently released 2019 provincial budget, outlining its plan to cut the number of public health units in Ontario from 35 to 10 larger regional entities over the next two years. It has also announced plans to slash provincial funding of public health by $200 million, offloading a significant portion of public health funding from the province to municipalities.
Denis Doyle, Chair of the KFL&A Public Health Board of Health, endorsed the Board’s statement, voicing support for all those who work in public health.
“As the Chair of the Board of KFL&A Public Health, I unequivocally support KFL&A Public Health and its staff in the work that they do,” Doyle said. “The needs of Ontarians are variable and preserving partnerships locally is essential. Local knowledge and expertise to ensure the health of our communities is not something that our region can afford to lose.”