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January 11, 2018
Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County boards approve next steps in health unit merger

The proposed Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit will serve approximately 204,000 residents in southwestern Ontario.

The boards of health for Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County Council approved, at respective meetings on January 10, reports recommending the next steps in the merger of the two public health units.

The public health reports recommended a total of eight municipal representatives for the merged health unit’s new autonomous board: four from Oxford County, two from Elgin County, and two from the City of St. Thomas.

The health unit boards were further asked to endorse a request to the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care for provincial one-time funding to support the planning and implementation costs of the merger over the next 12 to 18 months.

The boards also endorsed “Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit” as the name of the new health unit, subject to Ministry approval.

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health first began exploring a potential merger in 2017 as a way to enhance programs and services for their mix of small urban and rural communities while ensuring a strong voice for rural public health in Ontario. The health units already share a history of collaboration as well as similar geographic, demographic, health status and population characteristics.


  • November 10, 2017: Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford County Public Health announce their intent to merge into a single health unit serving the communities of Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas, a combined population of about 204,000.
  • November 15, 2017: Health unit board chairs Bernie Wiehle (Elgin St. Thomas) and Warden David Mayberry (Oxford County), and senior executives Cynthia St. John (Elgin St. Thomas) and Lynn Beath (Oxford County), appear before the Standing Committee on Bill 160, the Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act 2017, to ask for the removal of special distinctions for Oxford County under the Health Protection & Promotion Act. This marked the first procedural step allowing the merger to proceed.
  • December 12, 2017: The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017, receives Royal Assent with the Oxford County amendment.
  • January 10, 2018: Health unit boards for Elgin St. Thomas and Oxford County approve reports at their respective board and council meetings that advance the next procedural step in the merger, a petition for changes to Health Protection and Promotion Act regulations to reflect the name, boundaries and municipal board membership of the new Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit. The Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care must now approve this petition for the merger to proceed.
  • May 1, 2018: Projected date for the legal merger of the two health units, pending Ministry approval. Work on merging the operations of the health units is expected to continue over the following year.


Bernie Wiehle, Chair, Elgin St. Thomas Board of Health

“This next step, approved by both our boards, marks the formal start of the collaboration among our three communities. We’re excited to begin working together to provide public health services that promote wellness, protect health, prevent injury, and advocate for positive change in our communities.”

David Mayberry, Warden, Oxford County (Oxford County Board of Health)

“The health units have been actively working together to advance our merger plans since the November 10 announcement. At the same time, as councillors and board members, we are taking a great deal of care, consideration and due diligence so that we can be confident we are offering our communities a better future for public health services.”

About Elgin St. Thomas Public Health

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health (ESTPH) works together with its communities to promote and protect the health of people who live, work and play in Elgin County. The health unit delivers a variety of mandatory health programs and services set by the Province of Ontario in the Health Protection and Promotion Act. ESTPH works with our communities to promote wellness, to protect health, to prevent injury, and to advocate for positive change. ESTPH serves a population of just over 90,000 people. For more information about our services, visit www.elginhealth.on.ca.

About Oxford County Public Health

Through its programs in prevention, protection and emergency response, Oxford County Public Health works to keep the people in Oxford’s communities healthy and safe through programs that promote healthy lifestyles and that aim to prevent illness and disease in the community. Public Health is a service of Oxford County, a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government serving approximately 114,000 people across eight municipalities that are “growing stronger together.” Learn more at www.oxfordcounty.ca/health


Tommasina Conte                                     Tiffany Terpstra
Oxford County Public Health                     Elgin St. Thomas Public Health
519.539.9800, ext. 3503                            519.631.9900, ext. 1308
tconte@oxfordcounty.ca                            tterpstra@elginhealth.on.ca


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