Seven out of 10 Torontonians say that they are less likely to vote for the Progressive Conservative party in the next election due to its decision to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Toronto Public Health’s budget, according to a new poll.

The Doug Ford government announced last month that it would reduce the portion of public health agency budgets that it covers, resulting in a significant loss of provincial funding for municipalities.

In Toronto, the province will go from funding 75 per cent of Toronto Public Health’s budget to 60 per cent, retroactive to April 1. It will then reduce its share of the budget to 50 per cent in April, 2021.

Staff say that the change in the funding formula will leave Toronto Public Health with a $65 million shortfall in its budget for 2019 and an $86 million shortfall in 2020. That shortfall will then grow to $107.6 million in 2022 and every year thereafter.

The Environics poll, which was commissioned by CUPE Ontario and CUPE Local 79, reveals that 86 per cent of respondents in Toronto either strongly (73 per cent) or somewhat oppose (13 per cent) the cuts to public health funding.

The cuts were most vociferously opposed by female residents. About 77 per cent said that they strongly opposed the cuts compared to 64 per cent among male residents.

The poll also found that the cuts were a factor in voting intentions. About 71 per cent of respondents in Toronto said that they were less likely to cast a ballot for the PC’s in the wake of the cuts compared to nine per cent who said that they were more likely. About 11 per cent of respondents said the cuts would make no difference on their vote.

Province wide, about 69 per cent of residents said that they were less likely to vote for the PC’s in next election due to the cuts, including 38 per cent of those who cast a ballot for the party in 2018.

The release of the poll comes one day after Mayor John Tory sent an open letter to Premier Doug Ford asking him to reverse the cuts for 2019 to give the city a chance to find “further efficiencies” in its budget.

“I think the poll is indicative of what I hear out there which is that a lot of people are very concerned,”: Tory told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday morning. “Certainly in the City of Toronto where a lot of these (PC) MPPs got elected by fairly narrow margins I think they have to be very considerate of the views of their residents who I don’t think bought into these kind of cutbacks that affect them or their neighbours very directly and in a very negative way.”

While the Ford government is cutting funding to public health agencies across the province, it is not doing so equally.

Once the funding formula changes are fully introduced, the province will contribute 70 per cent of the budget to public health agencies serving fewer than a million people and 60 per cent of the budget to public health agencies servicing more than a million people.

Toronto is the only municipality in which the provincial contribution will be reduced to 50 per cent.

The Environics poll is based on a telephone survey of 1,332 people across Ontario and is considered accurate to within 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.