Brant County Health Unit and Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to Pursue Merger

Published on: April 26, 2024

April 26, 2024

BRANTFORD, ON – The Boards of Health for the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) and Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) have reached a decision to pursue the next step by signing a letter of intent to merge.

Following the Ministry of Health’s August 2023 announcement offering one-time funding, resources, and support for local public health agency mergers by January 1, 2025, the BCHU, HNHU, as well as Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) began exploring potential alignments and options.

A Joint Board Merger Working Group, including representatives from each health unit, worked with the consulting firm Sense & Nous to prepare a comprehensive Feasibility Assessment Report. This report was recently presented to each health units’ Board of Health to aid in their decision-making process.

During BCHU’s meeting on April 17, 2024, the Board of Health voted to proceed with a business case for a prospective merger with HNHU. On April 23, 2024, the HNHU Board of Health also decided to pursue a business case for a merger with BCHU.

Throughout this process, BCHU and HNHU have identified several key benefits that would be advantageous in a merged organization. These include an opportunity to enhance public health capacity, improved service delivery, and a shared network of community-based partners ranging from school boards to children’s services providers. There is also an overlap in programming, with consistent collaboration already existing between management and front-line staff. Additionally, both organizations share similar geographic and demographic characteristics, health statuses, and population traits.

The focus of this merger remains on the importance of business continuity, retention of frontline expertise, maintaining a local public health presence, delivering high-quality public health services, and addressing health inequities.

An intention to merge requires legislative approval from the Ministry of Health. As a next step, the two health units will submit a jointly-prepared business proposal to the Ministry of Health, no later than May 31, for approval to proceed. Following this submission, the Ministry of Health will review the proposal and provide guidance on the proposed merger. Until then, both health units will continue to operate independently.

Quotes:

“On behalf of the BCHU Board of Health, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated efforts of all three boards of health, the Senior Leadership teams, and the diligent staff from each public health unit. Their meticulous and extensive work in recent months has provided us with vital information needed to make an informed decision. We also extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Health for both the opportunity to explore this initiative and the commitment to funding it. Throughout this process, our Board has remained resolute in its dedication to providing a responsive, local public health service capable of addressing both current health challenges and any unforeseen surges in demand. The decision to pursue a merger with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit reflects our shared commitment to strengthen public health services, improve community health outcomes, and build a healthier future for everyone. I also want to extend my gratitude to the team at Southwestern Public Health for their support and commitment throughout these discussions. Despite our Boards’ differing decisions, the diverse perspectives shared during this exploration have strengthened our relationships and mutual understanding. I value our collaboration and look forward to finding new ways to work together in the future.”

~ Susan Brown, Board of Health Chair, Brant County Health Unit  

“Throughout the years, we have maintained a strong alignment with the Brant County Health Unit, sharing numerous community providers, allied agencies, and healthcare pathways across our regions. We are excited about the future of our health units, as we join forces to become even stronger and continue delivering exceptional service and advocacy to our residents. Thank you to the team at Southwestern Public Health for their participation and dedication in this process. While our Boards may have reached different decisions, the variety of viewpoints shared throughout our discussions provides a solid foundation for our future cooperation. As we move forward, I am enthusiastic about the potential for continued collaboration and partnership opportunities.”

~ Mayor Amy Martin, Board of Health Chair, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

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