Health unit review to be unveiled tonight

As a follow-up to an operational review of the Northwestern Health Unit over the past six months, district municipalities and the public will get a chance to hear what the consultants found at a meeting here Tuesday night.
“For several years, several municipalities have wanted this,” said Dr. Peter Sarsfield, CEO and medical officer of health for the health unit.
“The opinions as to what the different municipalities wanted out of this differ so it will be interesting to see what they say,” he added.
Dr. Sarsfield noted the review should give a clearer picture of the purpose of the unit’s board of health, as well as areas where it has succeeded and where it may have fallen short.
He added the operational review seemed like a fair thing to do since Ontario remains the only province where municipalities have to pay for public health care.
The health unit hired the Blackwell Group of Calgary back in June to undertake the operational review. “They’re highly regarded,” said Dr. Sarsfield.
The health unit put up $50,000 of its reserves to pay for the consultants, with the province matching that to cover the rest of the cost.
Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said he was looking forward to Tuesday’s meeting.
“For the last couple years, we’ve been asking for this. And then the health unit went ahead and did without asking the municipalities for any funding,” he noted.
“I talked to one of the consultants the other day, but I’m not sure yet what they’re going to recommend,” added Mayor Witherspoon.
“One of our biggest concerns [with the health unit] has always been financing. We’ll have to see what they say,” he remarked.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre.
A second meeting is being held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Dryden for municipalities and residents of Kenora District.