Haliburton County is pushing the province to keep the new boundaries for its public health unit rural instead of merging it into Peterborough and Durham.
Haliburton County council voted at a special meeting June 12 to support a proposal from the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC) to establish the boundaries of a new public health unit along the geographic area of the EOWC.
The proposal comes as the provincial government works to reduce the number of units from 35 to 10, with plans to merge the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit into Peterborough and Durham.
“The EOWC recognizes the importance of being involved in ongoing discussions with the province in order to ensure the boundaries reflect the unique issues and needs of rural and small urban municipalities,given these are likely to be distinctly different from larger urban centers,” chair Andy Letham said in a May 27 letter to provincial officials.
The HKPR board has criticized the proposed mergers and questioned whether they will maintain the same level of service.
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care spokesperson Hayley Chazan said the government is trying to respond to the 2017 auditor general’s report, which found health units are duplicating work.
Although the government is bringing forward proposals, it will decide on the new boundaries with consultation, Chazan said.
“The new regional health units will be finalized in consultation with municipalities through technical working groups, which we expect to launch shortly,” she said. “We will also work with our municipal partners to design governance and delivery models that protect and preserve the voice of all municipalities.”
The County of Haliburton is also backing an EOWC proposal to do a comprehensive study of Eastern Ontario paramedic services.
County council voted to support the EOWC in sending out a two-part request for proposals for the study.
The first phase will be to collect data and key background information.
The second part will examine governance and operational models.
County staff have previously expressed concern about the province setting its sights on changes to the ambulance model.
In its budget, the province laid out plans to streamline by integrating Ontario’s 59 emergency health service operators and 22 provincial dispatch communication centres, according to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).
The AMO is anticipating the government to consult municipal partners as it explores restructuring paramedic services.