The eventual fate of the Northwestern Health Unit isn’t set in stone, yet.

Chief Medical Officer of Health for the NWHU, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says Ontario’s plan to merge public health units together to save costs and streamline operations, has been put on pause to allow staff to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the beginning of this year, there was a consultation process about the modernization of public health which we participated in. Because of COVID-19, that process has been paused.”

“Our general sense is that the province still thinks the move is important, but they recognize that COVID-19 is the priority and that’s what we’re focusing on at this time.”

The province was hoping to save $200 million annually following the merger of 35 public health units into 10 entities, and changes were set to come into effect in April, 2020. The divisive move was announced in April of 2019.

“From our perspective, a strong public health system is important moving forward, not just for COVID-19 but for all the other illnesses that affect our population.”

“What makes a good, strong public health system? It would be ensuring that it’s local, well-funded, appropriately-staffed and it meets the needs of our community,” concluded Young Hoon.

The Northwestern Health Unit works to administer health promotion and disease prevention programs to inform the public about healthy lifestyles, communicable disease control, immunization, food inspection, parental education and health education for all age groups.

As of 2019, Ontario municipalities are now mandated to provide 30 per cent of health unit funding - an increase of the previous 25 per cent allocation. That amount is estimated to increase year over year.

For more information:
Health unit addresses merger questions
Health unit’s fate still unknown