Brantford says it may remove itself from merged health unit

Brantford will begin looking into the process of embedding the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) — which represents the separate municipalities of Brantford and Brant County — in city operations.

In April, BCHU announced plans to voluntarily merge with Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU), prompting pushback from Brantford.

The city is not for or against a public health unit merger, but it needs more information before it can consent, said Mayor Kevin Davis at a council meeting on Tuesday night.

Davis said while council received a high level overview from BCHU, too many questions remain unanswered for the city to say whether it supports or opposes the union.

These include what representation the city would have on the new board, what would happen to BCHU assets such as the building and parking lot in Brantford, and what budgets and city costs would look like moving forward.

Councillors voted 9-1 in support of deferring the merger until their questions are answered — and may decide to withdraw from the merged health unit if it moves forward without city consent.

They also voted 9-1 to have city staff look into the specifics of bringing a public health unit in the city’s administrative structure.

A business case to bring the unit in-house requires support from the county and health unit, both of which have indicated their desire for the amalgamation with Haldimand-Norfolk.

It’s not the only recent issue the city and county haven’t seen eye to eye on.

Both councils also voted on Tuesday night about how to proceed with a joint city-county shared services committee process they began in October 2023.

The two municipalities already share some resources, including social services (administered by the city) and paramedic services (administered by the county).

The committee was formed to look at additional mutually beneficial initiatives, such as transit and green bin programs.

Brantford councillors voted unanimously in support of the proposed initiatives, while Brant councillors voted unanimously at their own meeting to withdraw from the committee.

“Everything that’s kept me up at night and made me feel very awkward and uncomfortable are things that we have let ourselves be involved in with the City of Brantford,” County of Brant Mayor David Bailey previously said at a council meeting in April, referring to one of the joint service committee meetings as “terrible.”

A media release from the county cited staff capacity constraints, and the county’s desire to focus on ongoing projects and current commitments.

“This strategic decision will ensure that existing initiatives are completed effectively and continue to meet the needs of our communities,” it read.

The release went on to say the county values “the relationship and partnership that we have with the City of Brantford and look forward to future opportunities outside of the committee platform.”

Celeste Percy-Beauregard’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about Brant County. Reach her at

Celeste Percy-Beauregard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator