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Splitting health unit has ‘disaster written all over it,’ says councillor

Bradford West Gwillimbury council votes down a suggestion to write a letter of support for keeping Simcoe County and Muskoka portions of health unit together in a move to York Region
2019-05-22-bradford council2
BWG councillors Gary Baynes, from left, Mark Contois, and Peter Dykie Jr. at a May 21 council meeting. Jenni Dunning/BradfordToday

Splitting the local health unit in half has “disaster written all over it,” said one Bradford West Gwillimbury councillor, who proposed writing a letter of support for keeping it intact.

“I feel sorry for Muskoka,” said Coun. Gary Baynes at a meeting Tuesday evening, adding “maybe it’s none of our business.”

Council accepted a letter Tuesday from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit alerting the municipality it sent a letter to Deputy Premier Christine Elliott recommending it not split up its Simcoe County and Muskoka portions, rather keep them together and merge with York Region.

The health unit will be disbanded next year and merged as part of a provincial consolidation into larger public-health units with neighbours to the north and south. The local health unit, as it now exists, will cease to operate as of April 1, 2020.

The Simcoe County portion will be merged with York Region operations, while the Muskoka component will be folded into an area covering a vast geographic region in the northeastern area of Ontario.

“The inclusion of the District of Muskoka with Simcoe County and York region in a single public health entity would also be consistent and provide better delivery than if Muskoka was separated out and added to the northerneastern regional public health entity,” read a town correspondence document.

Baynes said the health unit would be “better off” if Simcoe County and Muskoka were kept together with York.

“(Separated), it’s disaster written all over it,” he said. “I can’t call the Muskoka (move) logical.”

Coun. Gary Lamb agreed with Baynes, arguing Muskoka is “not a natural partner for anybody but Simcoe County.”

However, when it came time to vote on whether to send a letter of support, Baynes, Lamb, and Coun. Peter Dykie Jr. were the only ones in favour.

Mayor Rob Keffer said he does not want the town to send too many letters, and Deputy Mayor James Leduc noted the health unit never asked the town to do anything in response to its letter.

“I’d like to sit back and let the province come up with what to do,” Leduc said. “We’ve got our own issues to deal with.”

With files from Raymond Bowe


Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
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