Sunday, May 05, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mike Benusic points out that the success of public health programs is found in the absence of preventable illnesses and dangers - meaning that Doug Ford's slashing of Ontario's funding is likely to lead to far more health costs in the long run:
(P)ublic health isn’t in the business of patient care. Patients only become patients when they are sick. By preventing disease and promoting health, public health prevents people from becoming patients – by keeping the bridge sturdy so they never fall in the water. From the child who never had to go to the emergency room with measles because they were vaccinated, to the senior who was never hospitalized with food-poisoning because of restaurant inspections, public health works silently in the background.

The invisibility of the impact of public health is also its greatest weakness. When public health is working, nothing happens. So, often and now, funding is cut or diverted into more immediate needs – such as hospital beds. But by doing so, we undermine the system that prevents people from being in the hospital in the first place.

Thankfully, there is a wealth of evidence that makes the invisible impact of public health tangible. One analysis of the impact of local public health showed that for every dollar that’s spent, $4 is saved. Investing $10 per person per year in programs promoting physical activity, nutrition and reducing tobacco use can reduce diabetes and high blood pressure by  five per cent in one to two years, heart disease and stroke by five per cent in five years, and some forms of cancer and arthritis by 2.5 per cent in 10 to 20 years. These are some of the leading causes of hospitalization in Ontario. By preventing people from becoming sick in the first place, there would be no need for more hospital beds.

With massive cuts to local public health, it is clear that the government doesn’t feel that public health has a role in ending hallway medicine. Ironically, it may be the best solution.
- Muhannad Malas writes about Ford's elimination of Ontario's laws governing toxic pollution, while Kate Allen exposes the PCs' attack on protections for endangered species buried in a housing bill. Katie Nicholson and Joanne Levasseur report on the underfunding of Manitoba health inspectors under the Pallister PCs. And Mike De Souza reports that Jason Kenney's response to the abandonment of 4,700 wells by a defunct gas operator is to try to push for even more free handouts to the fossil fuel sector.

- MiningWatch studies how resource extractors are using trade deals to undermine environmental protections in developing countries. Barry Saxifrage points out that the Libs' current plans stand to fall centuries behind Canada's already-insufficient Paris emission targets. And Angela Carter laments Newfoundland and Labrador's decision to endanger its environment and economy in an attempt to chase oil revenues.

- Helen Briggs, Becky Dale and Nassos Stylianou chart the global environmental emergency (including but not limited to a climate crisis).

- Finally, Leo Gerard discusses the importance of a Green New Deal which protects both working conditions and the environment - while also pointing out the role the labour movement needs to play in helping to develop a transformative plan for our society.

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