Health Unit Suggesting Merger Of Its Own

Instead of Splitting Coverage Area, Expand It, Says SMDHU

The local health unit is urging the Province to reconsider splitting up Simcoe and Muskoka.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is asking the Ministry of Health to not only allow it to keep the full territory it currently covers, but also merge with York Region’s health body by 2020.

“We believe that the division of our Muskoka and Simcoe operations will disrupt and undermine the delivery of public health programs to Muskoka,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “The proposed geographic area that would include Muskoka is vast– more than 400,000 square kilometres – and providing public health services to such a large and low density area will be extremely challenging.”

Under the proposed boundary changes, the Simcoe County portion of SMDHU’s area would merge with York Region, with the Muskoka area would be part of a new entity also covering Sudbury, North Bay, Parry Sound, Algoma, Porcupine, Timiskaming, and part of Renfrew.

“A merger between SMDHU and York Region will be complex,” said Anita Dubeau, Chair of the Board of Health. “However, splitting the operations between Simcoe and Muskoka at the same time as mergers both with York and six other health units to the north will be overwhelming in its complexity.”

The changes would take effect April 1st, 2020, as part of provincial government streamlining.