QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPPs Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) and Ian Arthur (Kingston and the Islands) said Doug Ford’s scheme to collapse five eastern Ontario Public Health Units into a single, massive unit, while also cutting its resources, will undermine the Public Health Unit’s ability to keep families safe and healthy.
“Public Health Units run immunization programs, cancer screenings and food and water inspections, and they’re the frontline health units responsible for stopping the spread of communicable diseases, like the measles. Making public health units cover a vast territory, and squeezing the resources they have to do that, is a recipe for a major public health disaster,” said Harden.
“By massively expanding the boundaries of Ottawa’s Public Health unit from Kingston all the way to the Quebec border, Ford will force 1.7 million people across 29,000 square kilometres to be served by a single, under-resourced unit,” said Arthur. “Programs will have to be cut, corners will have to be cut, and people will end up paying the price.”
Arthur said that Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health (KFL&A) has led the charge against the spread of lyme disease, developing physician education programs and creating a lyme disease network for doctors that was adopted on a national scale.
“Our health unit is successful, and it knows our community,” Arthur said. “Asking a single public health unit to cover vastly different communities with distinct needs makes it so much more difficult to respond quickly and effectively on the ground to new public health concerns — from lyme disease to a SARS outbreak or a local water concern.”
Ford’s scheme will leave a single region to service Eastern Ontario, Region 7, which includes: Kingston, Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Ottawa, Renfrew (part of Renfrew and District Public Health Unit).