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Sudbury, Algoma health unit merger talks raise concerns

Two communities and an addiction recovery service worry a super-sized health unit won’t able to provide effective local public health services
Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

Two municipalities and an addiction recovery service are concerned about the impacts of a possible merger between Algoma Public Health and Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

The province began talking in 2019 about potentially working to merge Ontario’s 34 health units into a smaller number of regional public health agencies. The idea was set aside during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow public health units to focus on vaccination programs.

The Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) board of health decided in 2023 to re-examine the feasibility of a voluntary merger of PHSD and the Algoma Public Health

The idea doesn’t sit well with everyone, though.

Sault Ste. Marie city council is already on record as opposing the merger, based on a motion of council on Jan. 29. That's when Sault council unanimously passed a resolution saying the merger idea was not workable and would erode local autonomy.

The pre-agenda published for the upcoming PHSD board of health meeting on Feb. 15 includes a letter from the Municipality of Wawa indicating the local township council is opposed to any merger.

Among the points of opposition in the letter are concerns a merger would create a public health body that covers a massive geographical area, spanning more than 700 kilometres east to west and 500 kilometres north to south.

The Wawa letter also states that a merged board of health would not be able to provide regional representation to all the member communities from the north shore of Lake Huron, to communities along the eastern shore of Lake Superior. 

Thursday's agenda also includes a letter from Monarch Recovery Services, a Sudbury substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation service. The Monarch letter expresses concern about the ability of a newly merged health unit to be able to provide services and highlights the good relationship it has had with Public Health Sudbury.

"We not only have the assurance of regular health inspections of our facilities, but we have also benefit from your IPAC training, as well as we have your community nursing staff facilitate information sessions to our program participants on health promotion and communicable diseases, which included providing testing opportunities for individuals who often do not have access to primary care," said the letter. 

"The Board of Directors at Monarch is concerned that this level of service may not continue after a merger and hope that this is part of your exploratory discussions," the letter continued.

The merger items were included in the pre-agenda for Thursday and listed as new business items for consideration by the board of health. 

Thursday’s meeting commences at 1:30 p.m. and the meeting pre-agenda is published online.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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