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Health Units reject a merger

By Tim Davidson Apr 18, 2024 | 1:25 PM

The two health units that serve northwestern Ontario have rejected a voluntary merger.

The boards of both the Northwestern and Thunder Bay District Health Units says they won’t be going ahead with further studies.

The size of the region to be serviced by a single health unit is the main reason.

It would include 34 communities and they say the travel distances would be a challenge, particularly in unfavorable weather conditions.

A report released to the health units say it would be a challenge to ensure the towns and cities had a voice and adequate representation.

A committee was formed to look at a possible merger and an independent consultant was hired.

They say the sheer size of the merged health units would limit their ability to adapt services to meet the diversity of local health needs.

Executive director of the Northwestern Health Unit Marilyn Herbacz says they’ll be talking to the Ministry of Health next week about their report.

“We have no indication that the Ministry will be forcing mergers,” says Herbacz.

“Under the Strengthening Public Health policy, it included voluntary mergers only.  We do hope that our assessment will support and strengthen any case we may need in the future if mandatory mergers were being discussed.”

The merger report considered things like the benefits and risks of a merger with respect to programming, service delivery, financial integration, information technology, human resources and capital infrastructure.