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Ottawa Board of Health plans for uncertain future

Provincial amalgamation questions hung in the air over Monday night's meeting of the Ottawa Board of Health, as it approved its three-year strategic plan.
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YouTube/Ottawa Public Health

The capital's Board of Health is planning for its future, despite provincial plans to amalgamate multiple health boards by next spring.

The province plans to cut the number of boards of health in Ontario from 35 to 10, with Ottawa's board being merged with others in eastern Ontario.

Provincial amalgamation questions hung in the air over Monday night's meeting of the Ottawa Board of Health, as it approved its three-year strategic plan.

"Some people might wonder, 'why are you doing a strategy for Ottawa Public Health when you don't know if Ottawa Public Health will be in existence after April 2020?'" Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health, told the meeting. "I think that's an exaggeration; I'm pretty sure we'll be continuing."

"You can establish a regional board but someone needs to deliver the services to people," she added.

The strategy covers the things Ottawa Public Health plans to do to in response to public health concerns, and to encourage people to stay healthy.

Because of the provincial uncertainty, this three-year strategy differs from plans in the past, in that it contains one-year action plans that target the health unit's priorities. It's hoped that this method will be more nimble and responsive to yet-to-be-announced plans for the future of health units in eastern Ontario.

The first one-year action plan includes a focus on mental health and addictions.

"I think that this plan is really important to focus on the priorities that we've heard about, that aren't going to change, for the people in the city of Ottawa," said Dr. Etches.

It's expected that Ottawa's board of health will be amalgamated with other boards in the Kingston area and in counties east to the Quebec border, by April 2020.




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Jason White

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