Another step has been taken towards the possible voluntary merger of Lambton Public Health and CK Public Health.
At a special Chatham-Kent board of health meeting Feb. 1, a consultant's report regarding the feasibility of blending the two public health agencies was presented.
However, because the report was made in closed session, the details cannot be shared with the media or the public.
According to board chair Brock McGregor, the Lambton Board of Health is meeting Feb. 21, after which time a joint statement will likely be issued to the public.
"From our perspective, more information from Lambton Board of Health is needed," McGregor said, noting CKPH administration has been directed to bring a report back to the board. "We're awaiting the outcome of that meeting."
Public health agencies cover a wide range of services, from food and water safety, to infectious disease tracking and prevention, immunizations, prenatal health and overdose prevention.
In 2019, the province announced plans to consolidate Ontario's 35 public health units down into 10 units but this was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The same year, the province also changed its funding model for public health units, moving from a 75-25 provincial-municipal cost share ratio to a 70-30 split.
Then in August 2023, the Ministry of Health announced plans to "strengthen" the public health sector by offering one-time funding, resources and supports to local public health agencies that merge voluntarily.
In order to qualify for funding, the merger needs to be in place as of Jan.1, 2025.