Board of Health Proposes Principles to Guide Future of Ontario’s Public Health System

Written by Communications, January 21, 2020

Investing in Public Health a Key Strategy to Preventing Hallway Healthcare

In light of the Ministry of Health’s stated “reset” on its plans to amalgamate health units, today Peterborough Public Health’s Board of Health released a position paper articulating the principles from a rural Ontario perspective that can help guide any restructuring of the provincial public health system.

“Our Board of Health has been an active participant in the provincial consultation process, and appreciates the opportunity to respond to its Discussion Paper with its own position paper,” said Andy Mitchell, Chair of the Board of Health for Peterborough Public Health.  “This document hones in on the opportunities for improvements that will advance public health and prevent hallway healthcare, while avoiding changes that could unwittingly dismantle those parts of the system that are necessary to protect the quality of life across this province.”

The position paper proposes the following eight “Principles of Reform” to guide public health system modernization that reflect the perspectives of rural municipal and First Nations partners:


  1. The enhancement of health promotion and disease prevention must be the primary priority of any changes undertaken;
  2. Investments in public health must be recognized as a critical strategy in reducing the need for hallway health care;
  3. Any consolidation of public health units should reflect a community of interests which include distinguishing between rural and urban challenges and facilitates the meaningful participation of First Nations;
  4. Adequate provincial funding is necessary to ensure effective health promotion and prevention activities in Ontario. Funding should be predictable and consider factors such as equity, population demographics and density, rural/urban mix and increase to meet new demands;
  5. Local funding needs to consider a municipality’s ability to pay in the context of the broad range of changes in funding arrangements between the Province and municipalities;
  6. As public health is a joint municipal-provincial venture, its governance structure must provide accountability to the local councils that are required to fund local public health agencies;
  7. Changes undertaken need to be evidenced based and not ideologically driven; and,
  8. Change must be driven from the bottom up, in a process that respects both Provincial and local interests and facilitates genuine collaboration. Change management impact must be acknowledged in this process.

Flowing from these principles are 14 recommendations on the best way to implement them. These recommendations cover the optimal approach to the structure and governance of local public health agencies, funding models and respecting municipalities’ ability to pay, geographic boundaries, and the delivery of public health programs.

The full position paper can be found here, or by visiting and searching for “position paper”.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Manager
705-743-1000, ext. 391