Waterloo Region public health unit to merge with surrounding areas, officials confirm
Published Monday, May 13, 2019 1:08PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 13, 2019 5:00PM EDT
Public health units in Halton Region, Waterloo Region, Peel Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph have been told by the province that they are merging.
Waterloo Region officials confirmed the information on Monday afternoon. They found out over the weekend.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott says the affected units will be consulted while they go through the change.
“While the government will bring forward proposals, the specific boundaries of the new regional health units will be finalized in consultation with municipalities through technical working groups, which we expect to launch shortly,” the statement says in part.
The move will combine health units that serve more than 2.7 million people.
The spokesperson says the government is working with municipal partners to deliver in a way that will “protect and preserve the voice of all municipalities.”
But Regional Chair Karen Redman isn't so sure.
“I have to tell you, all along I’ve felt that this is not a good thing for Waterloo Region,” she says. “There’s so many area where Public Health provides frontline service to people in Waterloo Region. I don’t know who’s going to make those decisions – are they just going to tell us what our bill is at the end of the year?”
She also points to the decisions that Waterloo Region’s health unit has made on its own that have led to progress in the region.
“We were 10 years ahead of the province in banning smoking in public places. I don’t believe that that would have happened if the regional council today hadn’t also been the public health unit,” she says.
Redman says she's worried about accountability for local services.