Are Rob Ford’s proposed 2012 budget cuts essentially equivalent to health care cuts?

Are Rob Ford’s proposed 2012 budget cuts essentially equivalent to health care cuts?

(Image: Christopher Drost)

A group of health care professionals visited city hall early this week with a petition in hand containing nearly 300 signatures and calling on Rob Ford and his council cronies to spare community programs from the axe. The group warned that many of the proposed cuts to city services were tantamount to health care cuts—a move that will likely amplify the growing backlash against the 2012 budget and make the task of selling cuts to the public that much harder for the mayor. 

From the Globe and Mail:

The coalition of heath-care workers was assembled recently by [Russ] Ford [no relation to Rob], after discussions with health care colleagues, who felt that the message was not being sent that cuts to services like transport and recreation diminish the health of the city – particularly, he said, the city’s most vulnerable.

Roy Male, a family doctor who practises in the low-income neighbourhood of Regent Park, highlighted how cuts to the Hardship Fund – a fund of last resort that pays for items like prosthetics and wheelchairs – will affect his patients, some of whom have even used the Hardship Fund to cover funerals. He also decried cuts to Wheel-Trans, and [their] effect on dialysis patients.

Given health care’s sacred status, not to mention news that the city is actually facing a budget surplus and not a shortfall (and, of course, that stiffing dialysis patients isn’t exactly easy to spin), we wonder if Ford will change his rhetorical tack when it comes to justifying his beloved “efficiencies.”

Over at the National Post, Chris Selley wagers that Ford will, indeed, stop talking about what the city needs to cut and start talking about what it should cut. As we’ve noted before, Ford often seems more intent on shrinking government than simply curbing spending. It wouldn’t surprise us if he reverted to the standard fiscal conservative dogma and denounced the unnecessarily large government (surpluses are nothing more than over-taxation, yadda, yadda, yadda) as a last-ditch effort to justify his agenda.

Budget cuts are health care cuts, professionals warn [Toronto Star]
Health care workers plead for services [Globe and Mail]