November 10, 2017
Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County health units announce intent to merge
If approved, the health units will transition to a single new public health unit serving the communities of Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas
The Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health and Oxford County Council (Oxford County Board of Health) announced today their intent to merge their two health units into a single new health unit serving the communities of Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health began exploring a potential merger as a way of working towards a strong, unified rural voice for public health in Ontario. This week, the proposed merger was endorsed by the health unit boards as a way to ensure the best use of resources and to optimize programs and services for their mix of small urban and rural communities.
The health units already have a history of collaboration and share similar geographic, demographic, health status and population characteristics. A merger between the two would also align to the Province’s Expert Panel on Public Health report, “Public Health within an Integrated Health System,” which calls for fewer health units, autonomous boards, and a stronger connection to the health sector.
The intent to merge was formalized through a Letter of Intent signed by Oxford County Warden David Mayberry on November 8 and Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Chair Bernie Wiehle on November 9. The letter of intent commits both organizations to a review of each other’s finances, operations and assets; to equally sharing any costs associated with the merger; and to pursuing the necessary statutory and regulatory change at the provincial level before the merger becomes official.
With the letter of intent in place, the next steps will be to submit a formal request to the Minister of Health & Long-Term Care seeking approval to merge, then seeking the necessary legislative and regulatory changes so that the merger can proceed in 2018.
Merger at a glance
- The merger would see a single public health unit serving the communities of Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas. A name for the new health unit will be announced at a later date.
- The merger is planned for the spring of 2018. A detailed implementation plan to fully merge the two organizations would continue over 2018 and 2019.
- Governance for the new health unit will be provided through a transitional board appointed in spring 2018, followed by the appointment of an autonomous board of health with citizen and municipal representation in the fall of 2018.
- One Medical Officer of Health and one Chief Executive Officer will serve the jurisdiction, which encompasses 90,000 Elgin St. Thomas residents and 114,000 Oxford County residents.
- Current offices in St. Thomas and Woodstock will be maintained.
- Oxford County Paramedic Services, currently a part of Oxford County’s Department of Public Health & Emergency Services, will remain an Oxford County municipal service.
- The merger goals are consistent with numerous provincial reports suggesting the need to reduce the number of health units, increase capacity at local health units, and govern with skills-based boards.
Bernie Wiehle, Chair, Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health
“Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County health units have a long, rich history of working jointly together, sharing similar characteristics across the people they serve, as well as sharing the same LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) and school boards. Each of our communities has unique needs, separate from each other, and those needs will continue to be met. We’re confident the model we are putting forward will ensure a strong, vibrant, and efficient public health agency for now and for the future.”
David Mayberry, Warden, Oxford County (Oxford County Board of Health)
“Oxford County and Elgin St. Thomas share a viewpoint that a local solution offering equitable representation from across our municipalities best serves the interests of our communities. Through this merger, our residents will continue to have significant voice through their elected and citizen appointments, and will continue to receive public health services from the people they have come to know and who know them.”
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 our 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 our services, visit www.elginhealth.on.ca.
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 www.oxfordcounty.ca/health
Tommasina Conte Tiffany Terpstra
Oxford County Public Health Elgin St. Thomas Public Health
519.539.9800, ext. 3503 519.631.9900, ext. 1308