Neighbouring Health Units to Explore Voluntary Merger
Port Hope, ON (November 2, 2023) - The Boards of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) and Peterborough Public Health (PPH) are moving forward with a process to explore the impacts of a voluntary merger in the communities they serve.
In August 2023, the Ministry of Health announced plans to strengthen the public health sector by offering one-time funding, resources and supports to local public health agencies that decide to voluntarily merge. The province has indicated as part of one-time funding that mergers would need to be implemented by January 1, 2025.
In 2019, PPH and HKPR District Health Unit previously explored opportunities for shared service delivery in response to efforts by the provincial government to reduce the number of local public health agencies. Completing a pre-assessment study marks the first step towards understanding how the current proposal would affect delivery of public health programming and emergency response capacity locally.
“Public health’s primary reason for being is to improve the overall standard of health in the community being served,” said David Marshall, Chair for HKPR District Health Unit’s Board of Health. “Doing so goes a long way to relieve the tremendous strain currently being borne by our downstream health sector and those people working within it. If there is a way to strengthen our ability to improve these health standards it is our responsibility to investigate it.”
“Our ultimate goal is to protect and promote health in the communities we serve, while ensuring a strong voice in public health for Municipalities and First Nations,” states Kathryn Wilson, Chair for Peterborough Public Health’s Board of Health. “If a voluntary merger offers a chance to strengthen public health and resolve some of the long-standing capacity challenges facing the sector, then it is an opportunity worth exploring.”
The provincial pre-assessment process is anticipated to take place over several months, with a decision to follow early in 2024. At the end of the pre-assessment, the PPH and HKPR District Health Unit Boards of Health will decide whether to proceed with a voluntary merger. Both PPH and HKPR District Health Units will continue to operate independently during the pre-assessment period.
For more information about the upcoming provincial changes to the public health system:
- Ontario Investing in a Stronger Public Health Sector, Ministry of Health
- Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, Ministry of Health
- STRENGTHENING PUBLIC HEALTH, Outcomes and Objectives to Support, Voluntary Mergers, Ministry of Health