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In regard to the recent discussions around: 1. The 2020 overtime pay for the local Medical Officer of Health and 2. The high senior staff turnover rate at the local Health Unit, I propose some critical analysis.

About 15 years ago, there was talk at the provincial level about amalgamation of Health Units. Amalgamation would offer more efficiency and save taxpayer dollars; that much was, and continues to be, true. The result of amalgamated health units would certainly mean that some Medical Officers of Health (and CAOs) may not retain their positions - and rightly so, if the idea is to be more cost-effective.

Around that time, our local Board of Health approved spending on a large and lavish new health unit building. It seemed to some observers then that this decision was made in an attempt to secure a “headquarters” of public health here, in our little locale, within a region that included Middlesex/London. Such hubris. All the result of possible amalgamation.

Provincial power then changed hands and amalgamation talks faded away. The taxpayers of Grey Bruce were left with a huge, half-empty, opulent building to pay for. Fast forward to present, and we see that amalgamation talks at the provincial level resumed fairly recently. Again, rightly so, in the name of cost-effectiveness.

In response to these talks, once again, we see more political posturing, even more overtly this time. In late 2019, the Medical Officer of Health even went so far as to pitch the notion of our health unit being a "Centre for Rural Excellence"  as a way of side-stepping any amalgamation.

We, the public, need to ask ourselves, and our Board of Health members, is the current rhetoric we are being spoon-fed just another attempt to secure a spot for headquarters of an amalgamated region here in Owen Sound? Whose high-paying jobs are they so blatantly attempting to secure and why? (The jobs of the frontline public health workers are not at risk. Public health services still need to be delivered by those hard-working staff.)

One would assume that the Medical Officer of Health of a larger, amalgamated region would be someone with a proven track record in leadership and Health Unit management.

Our Board of Health must stop pandering to politics - and in the process, using taxpayers’ dollars to secure the jobs of highly paid administrative and executive level health unit staff. Taxpayers are tired of being used as political pawns.

- a former Health Unit employee




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