Sunday, July 21, 2024

Local public health agencies in Eastern Ontario consider merger

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health offices. Kingstonist file photo.

The Boards of Health overseeing Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A), the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District (LGLD), and the Hastings Prince Edward (HPE) regions have unanimously endorsed exploring the feasibility of a potential merger between their respective health agencies.

This move comes in response to the Ontario Ministry of Health’s initiative announced in August 2023 aimed at fortifying the public health sector. As part of this announcement, one-time funding, resources, and support were pledged to Local Public Health Agencies (LPHAs) opting for voluntary consolidation.

The province has outlined specific objectives for public health mergers, including the requirement of a minimum population base of 500,000. Other objectives encompass enhancing organizational performance, maintaining leadership structures, preserving specialized positions, aligning with partners, and supporting communities and priority populations.

Wess Garrod, Chair of KFL&A Board of Health, stated that “our agencies share the common aim of advancing population health outcomes and reducing health disparities in our communities. Exploring a voluntary merger holds the potential to reinforce our public health capacity to effectively respond to unforeseen surges in demand and ensure comprehensive delivery of core public health services.”

Peter McKenna, Chair for the LGLD Board of Health, highlighted their collaborative approach, stating, “we maintain a positive working relationship with neighboring health units and eagerly anticipate discussions on how a potential merger could enhance the local delivery of public health services in our region.”

Jan O’Neill, Board Chair at HPEPH, emphasized the constructive dialogues held with neighboring public health units. “We are exploring partnerships that can capitalize on our existing strengths and align with the province’s objectives to bolster public health,” O’Neill remarked, assuring the community that any decision concerning a merger will prioritize sustaining frontline services to meet local needs.

The feasibility of a potential merger will undergo thorough consideration, with each board independently determining its interest in progressing further. If approved, a proposal must be submitted to the Ministry of Health by March 2024, subject to the ministry’s approval.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!