Public health in Ontario: What it does, and what might change

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  • Ivan Stephen says:

    Here in Niagara, I feel that there is increasing evidence that whatever the administrative structure, the politicians should be subordinate to the medical officer on health issues. The board of health is the regional councikl (which is composed entirely of local politicians, inclding the mayors). It has become clear that political interference is weakening the public health response, causing staff to make contradictory statements such as “masks are mandatory and and encouraged”.
    Unfortunately, during the months of the pandemic (nine so far), there have been mixed messages adding to the confusion caused by the conflicting messages from the province. In June, Niagara’s medical officer stated to the media that masks would NOT be mandatory as they could not be enforced. In December, many (including municipal staff) are still choosing not to wear them.
    I think there are two solutions: either to give the medical officers the actual power to make strong public health rulings based on the best information from Public Health Ontario; or eliminate local public health units entirely and replace them with regional offices of Public Health Ontario (so that they can not be overruled by local politicians).

  • Dave Bryans says:

    A well balanced review and under the SFOA act, the PHU’s are allocated over $20 million to send in underage shoppers to test convenience stores who have demonstrated a pass rate of 96.2% using Ministry data. However no concern or shops on LCBO or The Beer Stores & no plans for cannabis sales or concerns in any region. The time has come to evaluate the amount of money being spent on mystery shops where the PHUs conduct about 20,000 underage shops for an average cost of $1,000 an inspection. Normal everyday mystery shop programs costs somewhere around $50 & no programs offered to train or help small businesses under the act. Seems very one sided to the average person.

    • Melanie says:

      Any test shopping for LCBOs, beer stores, or cannabis would fall under the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario), not the Public Health Units, but maybe it should.

  • Adam Smith says:

    A sensible article. Recall that this planning to reduce the number of PHUs started under the Liberals. It is not some nasty Tory plot to destroy public health.

    And there’s room to make changes to public health:


Dafna Izenberg


Dafna is the Managing editor of special projects at Maclean’s Magazine.

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