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Province disputes city's claim of $1B cut to TPH

Last Updated Apr 30, 2019 at 9:34 pm EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right, sits next to PC MPP Christine Elliott during Question Period at Queen's Park, in Toronto on July 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The province and Premier Doug Ford are disputing the city’s claim that Toronto Public Health will lose $1 billion in funding over the next decade due to budget cuts.

Under the proposed cuts to Public Health units, the province would go from providing 75 per cent of funding to Toronto Public Health to 50 per cent.

However, in a strongly worded letter to Mayor John Tory, Ford said the plan would not cost the city anywhere near the $1 billion mark being touted by Tory and city officials.

He said, in the first year, there will only be “an adjustment” of $33 million, meaning the city would be required to re-allocate 0.24 per cent of their budget in order to cover the shortfall.

Ford adds when the cost-sharing changes to 50 per cent from both provincial and municipal budgets in 2021, it would only represent a $42 million increase in the city’s budget. The letter does not address what the cuts would be in the following seven years.

In the letter, he stated TPH has run a cumulative surplus of $52 million dollars over the last 10 years and said Tory “continues to use misleading numbers that falsely raise the threat of Toronto cutting back on certain health programs and services.”

“We expect you to refrain from further use of misinformation and drawn-out timelines, which only serves to conflate this issue,” said Ford.

In a one-on-one interview Tuesday with CityNews, Health Minister Christine Elliott referred to the province and city’s calculations as “vastly different,” and added she is confident Toronto Public Health’s essential programs will still be delivered.

She also accused the city of wasting money. “I think it’s important to the people of Ontario to spend their tax dollars wisely and I think it’s reasonable to expect the city of Toronto to do the same,” said Elliott.

Ford also mentioned the province’s $28.5 billion plan for transit in the city in the letter.

Tory said the province’s story on the public health cuts keeps changing.

“Last week, they were trying to say because we have so much money for transit, we should be grateful … Today, it’s a new story which is, well, because we’ve had some problems that we have identified…therefore we should accept cuts to public health,” said Tory.

The Province’s chief medical officer of health responded writing a letter to the city suggesting the province will consider “providing one-time funding to help mitigate some of the financial impacts” of the recent funding changes, but further details have not been released.

Related stories:

$1B cut to Toronto Public Health called ‘cruel’ and ‘short-sighted’

City officials call on the province to reverse cuts to Toronto Public Health

Thousands descend on Queen’s Park to protest Ontario healthcare changes

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