As you know, the provincial government is moving forward with what they are calling a “modernization” of the public health system in Ontario. This update will provide you with the most recent information we have on the government’s consultation process, and CUPE’s plans to respond.
On Monday, November 18, the Ministry hosted a webinar that many of you were able to follow online. The government used this as a chance to introduce the person they’ve appointed as their municipal advisor for the restructuring, Jim Pine. Mr. Pine is known to CUPE as the CAO of Hastings County. He is appointed to head up the consultations on the possible restructuring of both public health and also Emergency Health Services (EHS).
The webinar was co-hosted by Mr. Pine, Dr. David Williams (Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer), and Alison Blair, (Executive Lead, Public Health Modernization and Assistant Deputy Minister, Emergency Health Services). If you missed the livestream of the webinar, you can watch it here: (Public Health and Emergency Health Services Modernization).
Here are the main takeaways:
- Two consultation papers are now up online, and they spell out the Ministry’s understanding of the key challenges in public health and EHS. The papers pose questions about possible solutions. You can read and download the public health consultation paper at the following link: (PH paper).
- They have also created an online survey, which we can use to provide feedback and answer some of the questions posed in the consultation papers. The online consultation is open until February 10, 2019 (online survey).
- Written submissions are also welcome at the email address provided: ([email protected]). We do not yet have a closing date for the written submissions.
- Those interested in following the process closely can sign up for email updates at this same email address (Sign up to receive updates).
- The consultation team (Mr. Pine with Dr. Williams for public health, and Ms. Blair for EHS) will be traveling across the province in the coming weeks to hear directly from stakeholders.
They will present a preliminary report of what they hear in these consultations at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA) conference on January 19-21 in Toronto.
- Recommendations to government will be made in the spring. This means that the April 1, 2020 date that had been floated for implementation of new structures in public health is no longer the working target date.
- The presenters stressed that there are no pre-determined outcomes. They used phrases like “reset” and “starting with a clean slate”.
Taking them at their word, this gives CUPE the opportunity to have influence over the outcome through the work we will all do together.
To that end, some further updates on OMECC’s plan of action:
- We have requested a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Pine early in December, for OMECC, and public health and paramedic/ambulance communications officer leadership and staff.
- If that meeting is confirmed, we will schedule a telephone townhall for shortly after that to update you on how the meeting goes.
- We will provide locals with tips for answering the survey and/or attending the consultation meetings.
- CUPE will make a written submission formally to the team conducting the consultations.
- There is a CUPE public health leadership meeting scheduled for January 23rd, immediately after the ROMA conference. We have also invited Mr. Pine to attend that so he can address CUPE public health leaders directly.
Please stay tuned in the coming weeks and months as we reach out to ask you to mobilize in your communities. This possible restructuring risks affecting the quality of the services we deliver in public health units across Ontario, and it risks affecting the work of CUPE members.
We will make a priority of working with our members in public health units to make your voices are heard in the consultation process, and that we emerge from it in a stronger position.