Public health officials are concerned that the Toronto civic workers’ strike will hobble pandemic planning efforts for the fall, when it’s feared the swine flu will get worse.

“There is no doubt in my mind (that) this is a very inopportune time to have a strike. In terms of pandemic planning, we have a lot of work to do and this will hinder that work,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infectious disease prevention and control for the Ontario Agency for Health Promotion and Protection.

Ontario’s 36 public health units are — or should be — in the process of planning for the establishment of mass vaccination and flu assessment centres in the fall. While the province has not given the final word on whether these centres will open, public health units have been ordered to make plans. According to the latest numbers, Toronto has had 1,328 of the province’s 3,154 influenza A cases.