Health in Toronto
Several factors affect citizens' health in Toronto. Elements include local hospitals, air quality and smog alerts as well as vehicle emissions, healthy exercise and food options, and the level of crime. Each of these factors are described in greater detail below.
Other factors affecting health in the city include air quality in regard to smog. Smog alerts are issued by Toronto Public Health when the air quality is poor enough to warrant informing some segments of the public to limit their exposure to the smog, such as children, the elderly, and people with lung diseases or heart conditions. The best and worst years for smog in the city within the last five years were respectively 2006 with 11 smog alerts, and 2005 with 48 smog alerts.
A vehicle emissions testing program known as Ontario's Drive Clean began in 1999, and has had a minimal impact on smog in Toronto. 2005 was Toronto's worst year on record for smog with a total of 48 smog alert days. The Ontario Medical Association estimated in 2005 that total air pollution (from all sources) would cause some 5,800 deaths and 17,000 hospital admissions that year.
The city has many opportunities for citizens to be physically active, including bike lanes, walkways, and parks throughout the city. Given the cultural diversity of the city, there is also great diversity in the foods that citizens can consume, which determines their personal nutrition. Many foods for example enter the city through the Ontario Food Terminal, located on the west side.
Another risk to health for citizens is exposure to crime in the city. Toronto has a rate of violent crime of 738 incidents per 100,000 people, though this is still lower than the national average of 951, according to 2006 Statistics Canada data, and far lower than other cities of comparable size (particularly those in the United States).
Several municipally funded programs affect health in the city. They are listed below, and where possible their annual budgets are provided. Provincial and federal programs also affect health in Toronto, such as the provincial Smoke-Free Ontario Act which bans cigarette smoking in enclosed spaces in the province.
- Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division ($239,953,000, 2004)
- Toronto Police Services ($707,573,000, 2004)
- Toronto Public Health ($182,672,000, 2004)
- Toronto Water Division
History of public administration
All municipalities had their own public health programs, meaning a patchwork of systems throughout Ontario, including within the modern borders of Toronto. For example, the Town of Mimico, Town of New Toronto, and Village of Long Branch each had their own program, despite the communities bordering each other within a few kilometre stretch of Lakeshore Road. In 1956, the Lakeshore Board of Education in 1956 asking the councils of to consider forming one central service.
Metropolitan Toronto was created in 1954 as a measure to encourage collaboration between the urban municipalities in southern York County. In 1960, the Toronto Board of Health chair called for a Metro-wide board, stating "epidemics don't recognize municipal boundaries. The present chaotic division of health responsibilities in ridiculous."
Premier John Robarts' government looked to find efficiencies in local governance. That included Health Minister Dr. Matthew Dymond proposing a joint board of health for Metro's six municipalities. Local Medical Officers of Health and board chairs largely balked at the idea, announced in 1967, even though the province offered to pay 75% of costs, instead of the previous 25%. It was thought that a merger would raise costs, that one body couldn't serve 2 million residents, and that a merger might lead to a "lowest common denominator" approach. Dymond remained firm, noting that other large municipalities had been successful in such transitions.
The city is home to many health organizations, including:
- List of hospitals in Toronto
- Canadian Association of Food Banks
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada
- Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Alzheimer Society of Canada
- Alzheimer Society of Ontario
- Alzheimer Society of Toronto
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
- Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research
- Cystic Fibrosis Canada
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- ALS Society of Canada
- Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders
- The Canadian Hearing Society
- Kidney Foundation of Canada
- Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
- Muscular Dystrophy Canada
The city was also the host of the 2006 XVI International AIDS Conference.
- "National crime rate down in 2006". 18 July 2007 – via Toronto Star.
- "Public Health United Formation Urged". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. 13 April 1956. p. 4.
- "Health Service Amalgamation For Metro Area Is Suggested". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. 12 November 1960. p. 5.
- Anderson, Susan (2 June 1967). "Dymond plan in rough seas: York Spurns joint health setup". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. p. 5.
- "Proposed health district running afoul of boroughs". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. 2 October 1967. p. 15.
- Anderson, Susan (6 December 1967). "Metros 6 mayors close ranks against amalgamation of their hoards of health". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. p. 5.
- "A crazy-quilt health system does not serve Metro". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. 8 December 1967. p. 6.
- "Hears plea, Dymond still firm on one health unit for Metro". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. 7 December 1967. p. 5.