Until NDP leader Andrea Horwath and green leader Mike Schriener tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Ontario’s campaign track had little focus on pandemics and public health.
This surprises and concerns John Atkinson, Managing Director of the Ontario Public Health Association.
Atkinson will spend more than two years on a pandemic that has put an unprecedented burden on the state’s public health system, following a significant reduction in public health, and the parties will discuss the need to strengthen and maintain the state’s public health. He said he was expecting to hear. During the campaign. But it wasn’t.
“None of them are actually spoken,” he said. “It’s like the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t happening.”
An association representing public health and community health experts said the fact that Ontario’s tense public health system was not a priority during the campaign puts it and the health of Ontario’s population at risk. I am saying.
“All political parties should now discuss the future of public health. After two years of intense COVID-19 reactions, we have realized that we are at a crucial turning point for public health,” Atkinson said. Told.
Public health systems are currently facing a serious backlog, withholding or delaying other programs during a pandemic, and need to strengthen their backlog and funding to address existing and new challenges. He said.
In particular, the association urges political parties to promise enhanced and sustainable public health and community health funding, and to promise public health autonomy.
Atkinson and the organization are concerned that the previous progressive conservative government was planning a change in public health in Ontario. These plans were put on hold when the pandemic occurred, but both public health associations and municipalities are worried that they may be resurrected.
“Our heartfelt hope is not to learn from the pandemic, but to talk about significant reductions and restructuring,” Atkinson said.
Public health funding was reduced by more than $ 49 million in 2019 and 2020, according to the state’s Department of Finance and Accountability.
According to Atkinson, the so-called “modernization plan” of the progressive conservative government, which consolidates 35 public health units into 10, will save $ 200 million annually.
Kevin Churchill, vice chairman of the OPHA Board of Directors, said the effect of the plan was devastating.
That plan isn’t going on, but Atkinson fears it will go on if more attention is paid to both the need for stronger public health after the pandemic and the current vulnerabilities of the system. ..
Importantly, he said the state would not be prepared for the next pandemic unless it strengthened the public health system.
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