Put public health cuts on 'pause,' TDSB urges Ford government
Parents to be notified about possible service reductions for students at schools
Trustees with the Toronto District School Board have voted to urge Premier Doug Ford's government to "pause any reductions to funding" of Toronto Public Health (TPH) through the 2019-20 school year.
The board held the vote Thursday evening and announced the result soon afterward in a news release.
"Trustees voted to have the Chair write a letter to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and the Minister of Education as well as Toronto Members of Provincial Parliament urging them to hold off on implementing the cuts until there can be further consultation and a full discussion about the known impacts," the release said.
Trustees also voted to have the TDSB "notify all parents of the funding at-risk for Toronto Public Health programs and the possible impacts that any service reductions will have on students in our schools."
Last week, Premier Doug Ford's government notified health units that it will reduce cost-sharing from levels of 100 per cent or 75 per cent, to 60 to 70 per cent for some municipalities.
In Toronto's case, the cost-sharing for some programs drops to 50-50 by 2021.
"Torontonians will die," board of health chair Joe Cressy said, adding the province announced the changes with "no warning, and no consultation."
The multi-million dollar annual loss could potentially have an impact on vaccination programs, food safety or disease prevention, he added, and called on the province to reverse the cuts.
Province disputes city's claim
The province has disputed the city's assessment that the cost-sharing changes could amount to $64 million this year alone, and roughly $1 billion over a decade — saying its own analysis suggests an impact of $33 million on the City of Toronto for 2019-20, growing to $42 million per year once the shift in the cost-sharing model is complete.
In its release, the TDSB says "over 208,000 Toronto students participate in breakfast, snack, morning meal and lunch programs," and that "Toronto Public Health immunizes approximately 100,000 students annually against Hepatitis B, Meningococcal disease and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)."
The board also says TPH assesses the immunization records of 322,000 students in over 800 TDSB schools and "provides help for children ... with speech and language concerns at no cost."
"Toronto Public Health funds important programs that TDSB students need for their health, achievement and well-being," TDSB chair Robin Pilkey said in the release.
"Before the Province makes any cuts, it is imperative that we know the possible impacts they will have and have the opportunity to offer our input."