Lambton Public HealthLambton Public Health

Sarnia mayor says provincial government 'creating chaos'

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is concerned the provincial government's mega-merger of health units will disrupt a lot of lives and lessen the health services that are vital to the community.

It was revealed Monday that Lambton Public Health will merge with its counterparts in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, London-Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford.

Mayor Bradley doesn't buy what he calls the Ford Conservatives' spin that front line services won't be impacted.

"Tell me how the school boards are working with the mega-school boards, or the LHIN's [Local Health Integration Networks] which are going to be dissolved," said Bradley. "What the government is doing is creating chaos and the loser will be the people that need the service. I'm becoming more militant on this because they keep on saying, 'we're going to consult with you,' but you've already announced what you're doing."

Bradley said he's seen a report that estimates a $200,000 impact on Lambton County this year.

The Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County hopes the full mandate of public health is protected if the provincial government proceeds with the merging of health units. Sudit Ranade says nothing is official until legislation is changed and there's consultation.

"I'm hoping that if the legislation is opened for changes that they will protect the full mandate of public health," said Ranade. "Which is for us to protect and promote the health of the population and to work with multiple stakeholders like municipalities, school boards, families, non-profit agencies and all of the other community partners that we work with."

Ranade says Lambton County wants to make sure its voice and the voice of all of its municipalities are heard in any decision-making about boundaries.

In April, the province promised to reduce the number of public health units from 35 to 10 by 2021.

It also plans to merge the 14 Local Health Integration Networks and six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario, into a super agency.

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