DAN CEARNS The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) is expected to make a decision on a potential voluntary merger with Peterborough Public Health (PPH) by the end of February.
This was one of the updates provided on merger talks during a board of health meeting on Thursday, January 18th.
The merger working group met on December 13th to discuss the matter further, and on December 15th, members participated in an Indigenous Health Advisory Circle.
Board Chair David Marshall told members one of the things the Health Unit has heard through this process is there is “a fear local relationships would get watered down.” Another concern he noted is the importance of “regional presence being maintained.” Lastly, he pointed to interest in knowing the financial implications if both health units decided not to go through with the merger.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking stated that some of the findings from “a good discussion” at the Indigenous circle included “the importance of not losing local connections. The need to acknowledge Indigenous communities are different across the entire region” and the need to continue to engage with Indigenous partners.
“There were a number of opportunities acknowledged of what a regional entity might be able to do, from a governance perspective,” Dr. Bocking added. Kawartha Lakes Councillor and board member Mike Perry stated he is “very hesitant, [and] leery about mergers regarding public health.”
The working group is expected to see a draft report this week, and then the report is expected to come to the board in early February. The report will then be discussed at the February board meeting, with a decision expected by the end of that month.