The Municipal Role in Public Health
Public health is a rich and broad concept. It includes the direct provision of programs and services, but also encompasses expansive notions of a healthy society. In this sense, a wide range of government functions intersect with public health. In fact, 90 percent of municipal operational expenditures in Ontario contribute directly or indirectly to the social determinants of health.
The formal public health system cuts across federal, provincial, regional, and municipal jurisdictions. The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a case in point: the federal government was responsible for certain quarantine requirements and the Public Health Agency of Canada, which served as the face of the national response; provincial governments set in place province-wide mandates; and local governments played a key role in implementing, or even going beyond, the measures required by higher levels of government.
As public health is both a complex concept and a shared responsibility, coordination and cooperation between levels of government take on special importance.