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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott looks on as Premier Doug Ford speaks during question period, at the Ontario Legislature, in Toronto, on Oct. 28, 2019.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

Public health officials in Peterborough, Ont., say any government plans to restructure the province’s health units should be negotiated and not forced.

The recommendation is one of a series made in a discussion paper released Tuesday by the city’s board of health at a rural municipalities conference in Toronto.

They say the forced amalgamation of health units could damage the delivery of services and the way the boards of health are locally governed.

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The group is not opposed to merging with other units to create larger entities, which they say could improve access to some services.

The report comes as Premier Doug Ford’s government consults on its plan to reduce the number of public health units to 10 from 35, a move announced in the 2019 budget.

Last fall, Health Minister Christine Elliott appointed a special adviser to lead consultations on the restructuring plan.

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