SUDBURY – The board of health for the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) health unit has made a request for the newly named advisor for consultations on public health amalgamations to meet with the health unit and the committee that has been working together towards the amalgamation of the North East health units.
“The motion that speaks to the appointment of the special advisor, Jim Pine, for the amalgamations of public health units, from 35 boards to 10, is requesting that he meet with us as a group; and to the chairs of the five boards of the proposed North East amalgamation,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health and chief executive officer with the PHSD, recently.
“We have, and will continue to commit to the work that has been carried out to date,” she said, noting, “that work has slowed since the summer because we had not received clear direction when the consultations would be taking place. We have been waiting for news from the province on this.”
Dr. Sutcliffe pointed out the request includes the PHSD board of health and emergency services being separate in talks with Mr. Pine. He is to lead cross-province consultations in renewed discussions with public health experts and civic leaders over plans to consolidate Ontario’s 35 health units into 10. He will also consult municipalities on proposed changes to ambulance services and report back to the government.
Mr. Pine currently serves as the chief administrative officer for the County of Hastings and is a former board member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).
The current boards of health in Northeastern Ontario (Algoma Public Health, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, Porcupine Health Unit, Public Health Sudbury and Districts and Timiskaming Health Unit) have been engaged since 2017 in identifying opportunities for collaboration and potential shared services, and the motion passed last week by the board of health for PHSD notes it remains committed to continued collaboration.
The province announced the planned changes this spring, sparking concern from public health officials that they could affect the delivery of programs and lead to layoffs.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government is still committed to the reforms but wants to consult more widely before moving ahead.