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March 01, 2018
Transition Governance Committee announced

Joint committee will lay the groundwork to establish the new Board of Health for the merged health units

The Board of health for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Council today announced members of the joint Transition Governance Committee, a group that will lay the groundwork for the incoming permanent Board of Health that begins serving its communities on the projected merger date of May 1, 2018.

The Board of Health for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Council approved membership and Terms of Reference for the Transition Governance Committee on February 14 and 28 respectively. The new Committee will provide oversight on tasks directly related to the merger, such as developing new board policies, and is guided by the Terms of Reference that outline the Committee’s composition, term, accountabilities and deliverables, procedural protocol, and roles and responsibilities.

Members of the Transition Governance Committee are:

Heather Jackson (Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Vice Chair)

David Mayberry (Oxford County Warden, Mayor of South-West Oxford)

Lee Rowden (Government of Ontario Order in Council appointment)

Sandra Talbot (Oxford County Councillor, City of Woodstock Councillor)

Bernie Wiehle (Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Chair)

The Transition Governance Committee will remain in place until the effective date of the merger unless extended by the permanent Board of Health. The permanent Board of Health will include four representatives from Oxford County, two from Elgin County, and two from St. Thomas. It is expected that the four municipal members appointed to the Transition Governance Committee will also be appointed by their municipal councils to the permanent Board of Health.

Background: Forging a new path

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health began exploring a potential merger as a way to strengthen their ability to deliver exceptional programs and services now and in the future. Serving similar communities and already sharing a history of working together, the merger was endorsed by the health unit boards in November 2017 as a local solution offering equitable representation from across all municipalities.

Beyond the opportunity to better serve the needs of its small urban and rural communities, both agencies believe that establishing one health unit serving Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas has the potential to build a stronger, more unified rural voice for public health in Ontario. The merger is consistent with previously published provincial reports that call for fewer health units, autonomous boards, and strong connections to the health sector.

The launch of the new health unit that will bring together the people, strengths and histories of both organizations is planned for May 1, 2018. Offices will remain open in both Elgin/St. Thomas and Oxford County to continue to serve clients in their communities.


  • November 10, 2017: Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health announce their intent to merge into a single health unit serving the communities of Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas, a combined population of about 204,000. The health units already share a history of collaboration as well as similar geographic, demographic, health status and population characteristics.
  • November 15, 2017: Health unit board member David Marr (Elgin St. Thomas) and Warden David Mayberry (Oxford County), and senior executives Cynthia St. John (Elgin St. Thomas) and Lynn Beath (Oxford County), appear before the Standing Committee on Bill 160, the Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act 2017, to ask for the removal of special distinctions for Oxford County under the Health Protection & Promotion Act. This marks the first procedural step allowing the merger to proceed
  • December 12, 2017: The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017, receives Royal Assent with the Oxford County amendment.
  • January 10, 2018: Health unit boards for Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County approve reports at their respective meetings to advance the next procedural step in the merger: a petition for changes to regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that will set out the new health unit’s legal name, boundaries and municipal board membership. Approval by the Government of Ontario’s Legislation and Regulations Committee is pending.
  • February 28, 2018: The Transition Governance Committee is announced to provide oversight on governance tasks directly related to the merger.
  • May 1, 2018: Projected date for the legal merger of the two health units, pending amendments to the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

About Elgin St. Thomas Public Health

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health (ESTPH) works together with its communities to promote and protect the health of people who live, work and play in Elgin County. The health unit delivers a variety of mandatory health programs and services set by the Province of Ontario in the Health Protection and Promotion Act. ESTPH works with its communities to promote wellness, to protect health, to prevent injury, and to advocate for positive change. ESTPH serves a population of just over 90,000 people. For more information about services, visit


About Oxford County Public Health

Through its programs in prevention, protection and emergency response, Oxford County Public Health works to keep the people in Oxford’s communities healthy and safe through programs that promote healthy lifestyles and that aim to prevent illness and disease in the community. Public Health is a service of Oxford County, a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government serving approximately 114,000 people across eight municipalities that are “growing stronger together.” Learn more at



Tommasina Conte
Oxford County Public Health
519.539.9800, ext. 3503

Tiffany Terpstra
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health
519.631.9900, ext. 1308