A proposal to merge many of Ontario’s health units is causing concern in Muskoka.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Doctor Charles Gardiner says the province is considering squeezing the current 36 health units in Ontario into 14. Gardiner says the idea is to line up the health units with boundaries of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks in the province, which oversee the majority of healthcare services in Ontario. The SMDHU would be aligned with the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN.

But, Gardiner says health officials are overlooking a major flaw with this plan. He says the health unit for Simcoe Muskoka has worked for years building relationships with municipal officials in the region.

He says these relationships are pivotal to work with municipalities to match community health programs with residents and create and uphold health-related by-laws.

Gardiner says another issue is the boundaries of the proposed new health units still don’t seem to line up with the LHINs.

As it stands, the proposal would see SMDHU and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit merge into the North Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit.

Gardiner says the proposal would also see six health units in Southern Ontario merged into one. This would be covering cities like London, Stratford and Owen Sound. The health unit board is adding its concerns and comments in a report to provincial officials. There’s no word on when the province will be making a decision on how to move forward with this proposal.