KFLA Public Health supports voluntary merger with HPE and LGL

KFLA Public Health's Kingston office. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington board of health voted in favour of the intent to merge with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) to create the South East Health Unit.

In August 2023, the Ontario Ministry of Health offered one-time funding, resources and supports to local public health agencies that decided to merge voluntarily, with the intent that the mergers take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

In response to the announcement, the KFL&A, HPE and LGL boards of health decided in December to move forward with the exploration of the impacts of a voluntary merger and engaged the consulting firm of Sense and Nous to prepare a feasibility study and a business case for a merger.

The feasibility study looked at the pros and cons of the three health agencies merging, including the ability to deliver public health programs and services to all communities within the new proposed catchment area. The business case summarizes the rationales and key proposals to be considered by the Ministry, including, the name of the proposed new entity, governance model, geographic boundaries, opportunities to strengthen public health as well as supports needed to merge. Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health and CEO of KFL&A Public Health, presented summaries of both the feasibility study and the business case at Thursday’s board meeting.

Last week the HPEPH board of health also voted in favour to seek a merger, as did the LGL board of health. Now that all three boards have approved moving forward with a voluntary merger, they will submit a proposal to the Ministry of Health by April 2.

Mergers of public health units require provincial legislative change, and a merger will only occur if the province approves the boards’ proposal and commits adequate funding for its success.

Until any possible merger is approved by the Ministry, the health units will continue to operate independently.

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