Grey-Bruce public health officials say they’re concerned about a provincial plan to amalgamate and reduce funding for Ontario’s health units, but the board of health opted Friday to not formally react to the proposal until more details are released.Their decision differs from that of at least 13 other Ontario boards of health that have already written letters to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care in response to the proposed changes. At least five of those boards are calling on the government to stop the amalgamation proposal.“Let’s just get all the information,” Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan, chair of the Grey-Bruce board of health, said in an interview.“As frustrating as it is for the folks here and for the folks in Grey-Bruce, we just have to wait a little bit longer. And when we get the information then we’ll be able to have some kind of a game plan going forward.”The board directed Twolan and medical officer of health Dr. Ian Arra to arrange a meeting with local MPPs Bill Walker and Lisa Thompson, who are both Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers, to reiterate the value and successes of the Grey Bruce Health Unit.Arra said he will also continue his work to find potential cost-savings and efficiencies at the health unit that would not impact front-line services or staff.That’s work Arra said he was planning to do anyway, but the proposed changes could force the health unit to speed up that timeline from, for example, five years to one.He said being as “fit and lean” as possible would best position the health unit to adapt to most of the potential changes.“If there’s a proposal for a regional board, at least we’ll be in a position to say we’re in good shape, we’ve already found the savings that you are planning to find, there’s no need for you to do a further cut,” he told the board.“Or, if the proposed model is a board in London and we’re a support site, we’re a good satellite site and they won’t have to chop anymore.“So my proposal at this time, with the very limited information, is to continue that list of functions that we’re planning to do anyway to position ourselves in the best possible scenario for whatever happens.”The PC government, in its budget released April 11, said it will be modernizing Ontario’s public health units.A first step will be to adjust the provincial-municipal cost-sharing of public health funding in 2019-20, the document says.The current funding split is 75 per cent provincial and 25 per cent county/municipal.The budget says the government will also replace Ontario’s 35 public health units with 10 new regional public health entities with new boards under a common governance model by 2020-21.The province says the rationalization and governance changes would achieve economies of scale, streamlined back-office functions and better coordinated action by public health units, which would produce an annual savings of $200 million by 2021-22.Arra said the health unit has received no information from the province on how the funding split will be changed or how amalgamations will be determined.“Our information is exactly what the budget announcement was at this point. We know that big changes are coming. It seems to be a challenging time coming our way, but there’s an opportunity in any challenge and we believe we’re going to be in the best shape we can to accommodate these proposed changes,” he said.“We don’t have information if we’re going to be amalgamated or not, but that’s what it seems to be.”Public health unit numbers say if the provincial-county funding split is changed to 70-30 in Year 1, Grey County would have to increase its $1.68 million annual contribution to the health unit by about $797,000 and Bruce County would have to raise its $1.19 million contribution by $564,882 in order to maintain the current operating budget.The increase in funding would be about $450,000 for Grey and $318,000 for Bruce if the split were changed to 70-30 but all funding levels are reduced by 15 per cent.Arra said the county’s cost-cutting measures could include reducing workshop, training or travel expenses, putting a freeze on hiring, not filling certain positions after someone leaves or encouraging volunteer retirements.“Many of these tools or measures could find us efficiencies without touching human resources. However, from the magnitude of the proposed change, it might be necessary to do so. But there are still many ways that it could be less intrusive that could be used first. For example, to lower pay instead of losing a job,” he said.But Arra said no significant changes will be made at the health unit until the province releases more information and staff has consulted with the board of health.Twolan said there are always concerns when cuts are proposed for health care or other programs.“Getting back to my political hat, does that mean raising municipal taxes to our taxpayers to provide services that we didn’t before or we’re asked to provide more? I don’t want to go down that path, but those are the kinds of things that could be facing councils down the road.”He said he wants people to know that it will be business as usual, for now, at the health unit. He said the agency will let the public know of any changes.