By Ian MacLennan Country 102
As of April 1, 2020, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will cease to exist and will be merged with other operations, according to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner.
He has been told by the province that the Simcoe County portion would link with York Region, while Muskoka would become part of a larger health entity that includes Parry Sound, North Bay, Sudbury, Timiskaming, Porcupine and north Renfrew County.
Gardner says the new health entities will each have a board of directors but he believes the degree of representation for any particular municipality is going to be less than it is now.
He says the SMDHU board of directors will be given an opportunity to respond to the Ford goverment’s decision.
In the April budget, the province announced it would downsize the number of public health units from 35 to 10.
Gardner says the government will provide some transitional funding until the end of next March, then a substantial burden of the funding requirements will be shifted on to municipalities.
He says there will be discussion with the board as to how they would direct municipalities about funding and about increasing it.
As for how much money the province will be pulling out of the local health unit, Gardner says he first wants to bounce the numbers off the board.
He has concerns about the proposed merger, saying the Simcoe and Muskoka health unit merged in 2005 and has made great progress, and he worries about that work being lost.