04/22/2004

Toronto, Ont., April 22, 2004 – The recently released reports, The SARS Commission Interim Report and For the Public’s Health - A Plan of Action, confirm AMO’s long-standing position that public health is an integral part of the health care system.
As the SARS Commission noted, the public health system “require(s) central province-wide accountability, direction and control” and that “the Ontario government must commit itself to provide the necessary resources and leadership for effective public health protection…”.

The current patchwork of accountability and funding responsibilities in public health, resulting from the previous government’s downloading exercise, is symptomatic of serious problems in many programs in the health and social services fields.  Through downloading, the province asked municipalities to subsidize almost half of the costs of public health through property taxes.  “The ability to meet the financial impacts of infectious control outbreaks just doesn’t fit with the property tax system,” said AMO President Ann Mulvale. 

The upcoming provincial budget is the opportunity for this government to fix an untenable situation.  “The government must restore 100% provincial funding – beginning with activities related to combating all communicable disease programs including West Nile Virus,” said Mulvale.  “This would be a strong, positive first step and would begin to straighten out the system. It would also start to restore the ‘pay for say’ principle in service delivery as a key component of any new accountability framework.”   

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is a non-profit organization with member municipalities representing 95 per cent of Ontario’s population.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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