ONA Concerned that Public Health Funding Cuts, Restructuring Will Put the Health of Communities at Risk
April 29, 2019
TORONTO, Ont., April 29, 2019 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), the union representing more than 65,000 front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals, is deeply concerned about coming changes to the province’s public health units.
“ONA’s approximately 2,500 public health members are alarmed about the implications of amalgamating 35 health units into 10, and deeply cutting the proportion of provincial funding,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Our members work tirelessly to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases in their communities, run vaccination clinics in schools, provide care to vulnerable people, teach good health practices to prevent illness and injury, counsel people and make home visits to vulnerable new moms and their babies to ensure a healthy beginning to life,” she adds.
ONA represents the public health nurses in 33 of the province’s 35 health units.
McKenna notes that ONA was not consulted by the Ford government prior to, nor since the announcement of changes to public health units in Bill 100.
“Cutting the provincial share of funding means a reduction in services,” says McKenna. “Those who rely on public health services the most – our most vulnerable populations – will be especially impacted. Contrary to the government’s promise to end hallway health care, the cuts to public health will increase the burden on our hospitals – with less access to public health services, people in our communities will be sicker and forced to find care in hospital. These cuts are a false economy, increasing costs to the system as a whole.”
McKenna is calling for a plan to ensure the retention of the province’s public health nurses throughout this massive restructuring. “Our communities need and deserve a robust public health system,” she says. "Government must ensure they continue to benefit from the health and wellness our public health nurses provide to them.”
ONA is the union representing more than 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.