Radical health unit cuts proposed
LONDON — Ontario has quietly proposed sweeping changes to public health units that could make them less nimble responding to emergencies such as SARS, an expert and opposition health critic warn.
An expert panel convened by Ontario’s Liberal government has recommended scrapping the province’s 36 health units and replacing them with 14 much larger bureaucracies that replica te the geographic boundaries of agencies overseeing healthcare spending, called local health integration networks (LHINs).
In the London region alone, that would mean replacing seven local health units with a single behemoth covering communities from Owen Sound to St. Thomas, and that could make them less responsive to local needs, including public health emergencies.
“(The proposals) are a leap of faith. (The panel) didn’t provide any evidence,” said Joseph Lyons, director of the local government program at Western University.