The provincial government’s plan to cut local health units and slash millions in funding is being opposed by a majority of Ontarians, according to a new poll conducted by Environics Research. 70 per cent of those surveyed said they “strongly oppose” the decision, with 13 per cent saying they “somewhat oppose”.
The poll was commissioned by CUPE Ontario and CUPE Local 79, the union representing about 20,000 City of Toronto workers and contained a margin of error of 2.7 per cent.
In last month’s budget, the first for Premier Doug Ford’s PC government, the province outlined plans to chop the number of public health units from 35 to 10, coupled with an annual funding reduction of $200 million.
The cuts are expected to have quite an impact on various public health programs, including infectious disease initiatives, communicable disease surveillance, immunization programs, food safety and water quality initiatives as well as student breakfast programs.
The poll further suggests more than half of those who voted for the new PC government are against the cuts, with 38 per cent reporting they were strongly opposed to them and 18 per cent somewhat opposed.
Meanwhile, when asked whether outcry over the cuts to Toronto Public Health will start to hurt the PCs, Toronto mayor John Tory said he thinks it already has.
When it comes to those surveyed as part of the Environics poll, 7 in 10 said the cuts make them less likely to vote PC in the next provincial election.
Among PC voters, 38 per cent said they are less likely to do so, the same percentage as those who said they weren’t sure.
While opposition to the cuts is strong across the province according to the poll, Toronto had the highest rate — with more than 8 out of 10 residents saying they are against the decision.
Toronto Public Health has a gross operating budget of more than $250 million, with roughly three-quarters of the funding coming from the province, a number now set to change. -CINEWS