At two respective meetings held Wednesday the boards of health for Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County Council approved reports recommending the next steps in the merger of the two public health units.
The public health reports recommended a total of eight municipal representatives for the merged health unit’s new autonomous board with four from Oxford County, two from Elgin County, and two from the City of St. Thomas.
The health unit boards were also asked to approve Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for provincial one-time funding to support the planning and implementation costs of the merger over the next 12-to-18 months.
While the actual financial implications associated with the merger are unknown, the projected cost based on available information is $1,675,000.
Both boards also endorsed Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit as the name of the new health unit, subject to ministry of health approval.
The move is a preemptive measure that arose out of concern over a report published last year proposing Ontario merge its 36 current boards into 14 larger boards of health.
“The health units have been actively working together to advance our merger plans since the November 10 announcement,” said Oxford County Warden David Mayberry in a release. “At the same time, as councillors and board members, we are taking a great deal of care, consideration and due diligence so that we can be confident we are offering our communities a better future for public health services.”
The two-county merger, which was proposed back in November, would service 204,000 people in Elgin County, Oxford County, and St. Thomas.