Boards of Health not Proceeding with a Merger in Northwestern Ontario

Today, the Boards of Health of the Thunder Bay District (TBDHU) and the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) announced that they will not move forward with negotiations to voluntarily merge the two health units.

This afternoon, the Thunder Bay District Board of Health passed a resolution at its Board meeting indicating it does not agree to a merger of TBDHU with NWHU. This followed a special meeting of the Board in the morning where they heard from the consultant involved in this work, and received further information from TBDHU administration on details and implications of a merger. The Board of Health of the Northwestern Health Unit passed a similar motion opposing a merger at its Board meeting earlier this week.

“Our Board values the ability to develop and adapt services to meet the diversity of local health needs,” said TBDHU Board of Health Chair, Don Smith. “Merging public health units across this vast geography would pose numerous challenges in the delivery of public health programs and services, and ensuring that municipalities and communities have appropriate voice and representation. The Board's commitment and responsibility is to the health needs of the communities we serve. Today’s decision reflects that commitment,” said Smith.

Thunder Bay District Health Unit covers an area of 230,000 square kilometers with over 153,000 residents. This area includes 15 municipalities, 25 First Nations, and unorganized communities and areas in the Thunder Bay District.

Today’s decision not to proceed with a merger was made following months of formal engagement and consultations facilitated by a third party consultant to review a range of considerations and potential issues that would need to be addressed in the event of a formal merger.

Although TBDHU’s Board of Health has voted against a merger with NWHU, the process that both organizations have taken together has been a valuable opportunity, and the longstanding history of collaboration between the two health units will continue into the future.

“Voluntary mergers are just one of three pillars in the Province’s Strengthening Public Health initiative”, said Smith. “We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health to support the revised Ontario Public Health Standards and the review of the public health funding methodology. We all support the provincial goal of strengthening the local public health system and improving health and addressing health inequities across local communities, including here in northwestern Ontario,” said Smith.

Learn more about the governing body for TBDHU’s Board of Health.

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