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Budget constraints halt health unit's relocation to University of Windsor

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, pictured in a Jan. 19, 2024 file photo.  (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, pictured in a Jan. 19, 2024 file photo. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will not relocate to the University of Windsor due to financial constraints, according to news releases from both institutions Tuesday.

"Faced with a challenging fiscal situation, our priority must be the ongoing public health programming and services that are essential to the Windsor-Essex community," Dr. Ken Blanchette, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said in a media release.

The new headquarters of the public health unit was supposed to be moved to the university's Residence Hall West by 2024-2025, after a partnership was struck between WECHU and the University in 2022.

It had planned to leave its current location, at 1005 Ouellette Ave., by the end of 2023.

In Blanchette's 2022 annual report, he said, "The relocation of the WECHU's Windsor operations to the university campus will allow for better client service, shorter wait times, and a more accessible facility within a high priority neighbourhood."

"The co-location will also bring new opportunities in research, teaching, student experience, development of local talent, and collaboration which will directly benefit the entire region."

University of Windsor's vice president of research and innovation, Dr. Shanthi Johnson told CBC News that XXXXXXXX.

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She says they are still planning to move forward with public health programming --

The WECHU announcement comes after the health unit said in December that 24 roles would have to be cut due to limited funding.

The cuts came during the health unit's budget process. At the time, Blanchette said the health until will receive a fixed three-year provincial increase of one per cent per year, which "does not keep up with current inflation."

The health unit's budget for 2024 is $24.9 million.