The Ford Government’s first budget came down last week, and amongst other issues, the budget pledged to reduce the number of health units in the province from 35, to 10 in addition to a funding cut of $200 million.
I think that this represents a serious loss of representation for rural communities. While it is unclear right now which health units will be targeted, smaller ones, like the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, will likely be absorbed into larger neighbours, like Ottawa.
The health issues we face in our rural region are not always the same as you would see in a larger city and require a different approach.
Our region tends to be a little older than urban areas, which presents its own challenges. We also tend to face health issues that can be related to animals and wildlife, like ticks for example.
There is also the fact, that fewer health units means less service for taxpayers. Just as with their cuts to education, the Ford Government is saving money by reducing service.
Public Health Units are responsible for coordinating and formulating health strategies for their regions. They also provide education on parenting, healthy diets food inspection and education on communicable diseases and the importance of immunization.
This last point, immunization has become crucial in 2019. Sadly, misinformation, skepticism of real science and a general over confidence in some parents of their medical knowledge has lead to a decline in vaccinations of children against diseases such as measles.
This has lead to outbreaks of measles in places like New York City, with cases as close to home as Ottawa. It is tragic that children are suffering from and dying from preventable diseases due to a lack of education and frankly arrogance on the part of their parents.
It is now that we need our Public Health Units more than ever to fight misinformation and get rates of vaccination up to the levels where they need to be, so that diseases like the measles are once again a thing of the past.
If you disagree with the Conservative plan to cut Public Health Units, if you disagree with their plan to increase class sizes, or feel that there are more pressing issues to be addressed in their first budget than “a buck a beer”, then I encourage you to email our local Conservative MPP, Jim McDonell at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to email me your opinions on this or any other issue, then send a Letter to the Editor to email@example.com