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LGL Health Unit Board of Health votes in favour of voluntary merger

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Board of Health has voted to merge with two neighbouring units. It, along with the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington Public Health and the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health may eventually form the South East Health Unit.

Last August the Ministry of Health announced plans to offer one-time funding, resources and supports to local public health agencies that voluntarily merged by Jan. 1, 2025.  The three area Boards of Health decided in December to explore the impacts of a voluntary merger and hired a consulting firm to prepare a feasibility study and a business case.

“The goal of a merger is to strengthen public health in our respective regions,” said Peter McKenna, Chair of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit Board of Health. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration in this new agency.”

McKenna added combining forces with the two neighbouring units makes complete sense given the history between them. “We’ve shared staff and programming and there is a history of when our medical officer of health (MOH) was taking holidays the MOH from one of the other units would backfill.”

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All three Boards approved moving forward with a voluntary merger and have submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health. Funding will be made available to help with the transition should the application be approved, which will help with collective bargaining agreements. “You can imagine the unions won’t want to go to the lowest-paid person. They are going to say we have contracts that pay x dollars an hour and we want all the employees in the group to move to that. The province has said any of those costs as a result of the merger will be covered by them,” added McKenna.

Mergers of public health units require provincial legislative change, and a merger will only occur if the province approves the proposal and commits adequate funding for its success. Until a legal, new organization is established, the health units will continue to operate independently.

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