Prioritize public health: keep our community PHO Labs open!


In December 2023, Ontario’s Auditor General made a recommendation to close six out of 11 Public Health Ontario (PHO) laboratory sites. OPSEU/SEFPO immediately sounded the alarm that these closures would endanger rural families and communities.

The mission of Public Health Ontario is to “enable informed decisions and get actions that protect and promote health and contribute to reducing health inequities”. The closure of 6 community-based PHO labs will increase health inequities, especially in northern Ontario.

Combined, these labs collect and process thousands of water samples and time sensitive medical tests each day.

By centralizing all testing to just a few locations, travel time will be increased and the integrity of samples may be compromised – causing further delays in getting results and putting patients and our communities at risk.

Each of these labs already process overflow tests and samples when labs such as Toronto and Ottawa cannot keep up to demand.

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on the vital importance of public health in keeping our communities safe. This is a time to invest in public health and expand capacity – not reduce it. Closing these labs could undermine our ability to detect and prevent the spread of disease and compromise our response to future health crises.

OPSEU/SEFPO members who work at PHO and their communities are speaking out!

We’re collecting thousands of signatures on a petition calling on the Legislative Assembly to:

  • Stop the closure of the Public Health Ontario labs in Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton, Peterborough, Kingston, and Orillia; and
  • Invest in the public health infrastructure that keeps Ontarians safe and healthy.

To download the petition, click here.

For more information and to get connected with a local member of our PHO working group, contact us at