By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Already serving Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit is contemplating a merger with the Peterborough Public Health Unit.
The boards of both are moving forward with a process to explore the prospect of a voluntary merger, Thursday’s announcement said.
The impetus was an August announcement from the Ministry of Health offering one-time funding, resources and supports to local public-health agencies that pursue voluntary mergers that are implemented by Jan. 1, 2025.
In 2019, the two agencies explored opportunities for shared service delivery in response to efforts by the provincial government to reduce the number of local health agencies. Completing a pre-assessment study marks the first step towards understanding how the current proposal would affect delivery of public-health programming and emergency-response capacity locally.
“Public health’s primary reason for being is to improve the overall standard of health in the community being served,” HKPR Board Chair David Marshall commented in the press release.
‘Doing so goes a long way to relieve the tremendous strain currently being borne by our downstream health sector and those people working within it. If there is a way to strengthen our ability to improve these health standards, it is our responsibility to investigate it.”
The provincial pre-assessment process is anticipated to take several months, with a decision to follow early next year. At the end of the pre-assessment, both boards will decide whether to proceed with a voluntary merger – though the press release stresses that both will continue to operate independently during the pre-assessment period.