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Peterborough letter: COVID-19 reminds us how much we count on our health care system

Posted: March 20, 2020

(March 19, 2020)

By: Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough started shutting down the way so many other cities around the world have done since the arrival of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. As the pandemic sweeps into Canada, we are once again reminded how much we count on our health care system to be there when we need it. We’re grateful for the efforts of all the healthcare workers on the front lines of this battle who are trying to keep us safe.

It’s also refreshing to see all levels of government across Canada working together to face down this threat. However, here in Ontario we’ve only narrowly averted whatever additional problems would have occurred if the Ford government had implemented its planned cuts to and downsizing of Ontario’s municipal health units this year. According to the Ontario Health Coalition, the government intended to cut $200 million (27%) of provincial funding for public health and reduce the number of health units from 35 to 10.

These cuts were shortsighted and unacceptable even before the coronavirus outbreak and we should be thankful that the government didn’t manage to push them through before we were plunged into this global pandemic.

Seventeen years ago, we learned a hard lesson from SARS and, in response, built up our public health system so we’d be better prepared the next time. Well, the next time is here and it’s a doozy. We certainly don’t need our government disarming us before we even start fighting.

This pandemic dramatically demonstrates that cutting public health funding is a false economy. It’s not good enough for the Ford government to delay the cuts only temporarily. When this is over, we must again build up our public health resources for the future. SARS wasn’t the last time they’d be put to the test — and COVID-19 won’t be either.

Lydia Dotto

Peterborough, Ontario

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