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Public health budget slashed: school breakfasts, infectious disease prevention and more at risk

Last week, the Ford government announced cuts to public health that will deeply affect Ontarians. The sweeping cuts are being labelled by city councillors and Mayor Tory as a direct attack on Toronto, as Toronto Public Health will be most impacted. As a result, the City is being forced to decide which essential public health programs will need to be cut.

Councillor Joe Cressy has estimated that the cuts will cost Toronto Public Health $1 billion over 10 years, and both he and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Eileen de Villa, have stressed that these cuts are going to have significant impacts, including deaths[1].

Toronto Public Health provides a number of programs and services, including vaccinations, infectious disease prevention, school breakfast programs, daycare inspections and more. The cuts have been applied by the Province retroactively from April 1st, meaning that Toronto Public Health has experienced an immediate $86 million shock to its budget and is in a deficit.

There are concerns that the Toronto Public Health’s school breakfasts program, which provides meals and snacks to over 208,000 children across the city at a cost of $14 million, will need to be slashed. The program is vital for low-income families, with a 2010 evaluation reporting that 82% of students believe that school breakfast programs help keep kids from feeling hungry at school.[2]

These cuts to public health are deeply alarming, particularly when the Province is also making plans to privatize health care, cutting half a billion dollars from OHIP, and making cuts to ambulance services and more.

Clearly, profiting from the sick is more of a priority for this government that the health of our Province.

[1] Toronto Star: Toronto officials clash with province over public health cuts

[2] TDSB Feeding Our Future report

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