Transition governance committee named for public health merger
The merger between Oxford and Elgin County's public health units has taken its next step as they announced the names of its five-member transition governance committee.
The committee consists of Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Vice Chair Heather Jackson, Government of Ontario Order in Council appointment Lee Rowden, Oxford County and City of Woodstock Councillor Sandra Talbot, Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health Chair Bernie Wiehle along with Oxford County Warden and Mayor of South-West Oxford David Mayberry.
Names for the committee were announced March 1 as the group will look to lay the groundwork for the upcoming permanent board of health that is expected to begin serving communities by May 1.
Aimed at having a strong rural-urban and gender balance, Mayberry says they thought they were each important factors to consider when it came to bringing up all potential concerns. Additionally, Talbot brings several years of experience to the commitee as she previously served as the head of the Oxford board of health.
The new committee will provide oversight on tasks directly related to the merger, such as developing new board policies.
“We will basically do some of the grunt work, leg work and transitional work as we move forward,” said Mayberry.
The two-county merger, which was proposed in November 2017, would service about 204,000 residents of Elgin County, Oxford County, and St. Thomas.
The transition governance committee will remain in place until the effective date of the merger, unless extended by the permanent board of health. The new board will include four representatives from Oxford County, two from Elgin County, and two from St. Thomas. It is expected that the four municipal members appointed to the transition governance committee will also be appointed by their municipal councils.
A one-time request for 100 per cent ministry funding to support the planning and implementation of the merger over the next 12 to 18 months is still waiting for approval. Mayberry remains hopeful as the province has approved many other types of this request in the past.
While the actual financial implications associated with the merger are unknown, the projected cost based on available information is $1,675,000. The costs would cover a communications and rebranding plan, legal and accounting costs, information technology related to consolidation, project and change management and support to external consultants to support the merger as well as additional support to merge five bargaining unions.
Mayberry said “we're not losing any staff” because of the merger but some positions may be realigned.
“With the pooling of resource we will look to maximize the efficiency of the staff we have,” he explained.