What does public health modernization/regionalization mean?

The Ontario provincial government is developing a transformational plan to improve the Ontario health care system. The government is seeking to strengthen local services, connecting the health care system through the establishment of Ontario Health Teams and integrating multiple provincial agencies into a single agency – Ontario Health – to provide a central point of accountability and oversight for the health care system.While the broader health care system undergoes transformation, the government has identified an opportunity to transform and strengthen the role of public health as a key partner in improving the health of all Ontarians. 

The Province of Ontario announced, in its 2019 Budget, plans to amalgamate 35 public health units into 10 regional health entities. Changes would also affect the current 35 local boards of health which would be replaced by 10 regional boards of health. The government most recently indicated that the future number of units and regional boards is flexible and that further consultation is required prior to any final decisions on public health modernization and regionalization. 

What does the Ontario Ministry of Health hope to achieve with public health modernization?

The province’s intended outcome from public health modernization is:

  • - Consistency and equity of service delivery across the province;

  • - Clarity and alignment of roles and responsibilities between the province, Public Health Ontario and local public health; 

  • - Supporting primary care and the broader health care system to end hallway health care through improved health promotion and disease prevention; and,

  • - Sustainability of the public health system.

How will the Ontario government be gathering feedback on their plans for public health modernization?

On November 18, 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced its plan to begin provide-wide consultations on public health modernization.  Public health units, municipalities and stakeholders have been invited to provide their feedback. The province has appointed Jim Pine, Chief Administrative Officer of the County of Hastings and former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, to serve as advisor for renewed consultations on strengthening and modernizing public health services. Mr. Pine will play a key role in facilitating productive discussions between the Ministry of Health, public health and municipal stakeholders.

Public health units, municipalities and stakeholders have been invited to provide feedback to the province through a discussion paper (Discussion Paper: Public Health Modernization).The submission deadline is Feb 10, 2020. 

The Ontario Ministry of Health will be conducting in person consultation sessions with identified stakeholders. 

How is Ottawa Public Health contributing to the Ontario government's consultation? 

On December 4th, 2019, Ottawa Public Health launched a public health modernization community conversation on Engage Ottawa to hear from residents and community partners about how to shape and improve public health services to better protect and promote the health of our community. This online platform will be active from December 4th, 2019 to February 3rd, 2019. 

The information collected from this online platform will feed into the Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa Board of Health response to provincial discussion paper.

What is Ottawa Public Health’s position on public health modernization?

Ottawa Public Health is committed to building on our strong public health system, to respond to the health needs of our community and to ensure access to services across Ottawa’s urban, suburban and rural communities.

On Wednesday September 25, 2019 City Council approved the following Board of Health recommendation:

  • That the Mayor ask the Minister of Health to maintain the relationship between the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health, which maximizes the coordination between public health programs and municipal services, and benefits from the integration of administrative and other efficiencies.

This motion seeks to further support maintaining the current relationship between the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health and that the Board Chair and Medical Officer of Health work to ensure the Province recognizes the City’s ongoing in-kind contributions in calculating future budget allocations. 


What will happen to the Ottawa Board of Health if they regionalize and merge with other health units?

The province has indicated that new regional public health entities would be governed by provincially-appointed boards that will include some combination of municipal and provincial representation. At this point, it remains unclear how individuals would be selected and/or appointed, the makeup of boards, or the proportional representation of locally elected officials. 

Ottawa Public Health is looking for your perspectives to inform the response to the Ministry of Health. 

What are the new regions being proposed by the Ministry of Health?

The Province of Ontario announced, in its 2019 Budget, plans to amalgamate 35 public health units into 10 regional health entities. We have since been advised that these boundaries are not final and may be subject to change based on the ongoing consultation.

Is there additional information available on public health modernization?

Yes. The Ontario government has released a discussion paper on public health modernization which includes more information on the topic as well as instructions on how to provide feedback on key issues for the sector.