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Board of Health Wants to Meet With Province About Changes Proposed in Discussion Paper

(LINDSAY) - The local Board of Health wants to talk with the province about its proposal to formalize linkages between public health units and the Local Health Integration Networks.

At its March 17, 2016 meeting, the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit approved a motion to initiate a meeting between officials of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and representatives from the four boards of health covered by the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CELHIN). The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the recently released provincial discussion paper, Putting Patients First: A Proposal to Strengthen Patient-Centred Health Care in Ontario.

The discussion paper, which was released in December 2015, proposes linkages between the LHINs and public health units be formalized, that the LHINs assume responsibility for the accountability agreements with health units, as well as be the conduit through which provincial funds are flowed to public health units.

At its February meeting, the HKPR Board of Health passed a motion to write the provincial Minister of Health and ask for modifications to the proposal. Response papers calling for modifications to the plan have been produced by the Association of Public Health Agencies (alPHa) and the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), and other health units throughout the province. As well HKPR Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy has made presentations to Northumberland and Haliburton County councils on the discussion paper and the Board’s recommendations, and will be making a similar presentation to the City of Kawartha Lakes council in the next few weeks.

In calling for the meeting with the Ministry, Board members said they wanted to hear directly from the province on the rationale behind the proposed changes, and receive reassurance that the work of public health units will be maintained, and that public health funds will not be redirected to another health sector.

Reports

Smoke-Free Ontario Act and Electronic Cigarettes Act

Lorne Jordan, a Tobacco Control Officer with the HKPR District Health Unit, provided the Board with a presentation on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the new Electronic Cigarettes Act.

Jordan highlighted the changes to the legislation, as well as some of the exemptions to the Acts and the challenges public health units face in enforcing the legislation. Jordan told Board members that the Acts now requires public health inspectors to conduct an increased number of inspections at restaurants and patios, monitor signage requirements, and conduct test shopper visits at cigarette and e-cigarette vendors.

Locally, Jordan said that the Health Unit inspected 440 tobacco vendors in 2015, and laid 100 charges during the year for issues such as smoking in the workplace, third-party provision of cigarettes to people under the age of 19 years, and smoking infractions at restaurants and patios. The good news, he said, is that the percentage of local smokers has dropped to 17 per cent from 23 per cent in 2003 and that the percentage of youth who smoke has also declined to 14 per cent from 25 per cent from 25 per cent in 2003. Unfortunately, Jordan said that research shows that 67 per cent of First Nations people aged 18 to 29 years are smokers, with 29 per cent of First Nations people becoming smokers by the time they are in Grades 10 to 12.

Medical Officer of Health Updates:
Dr. Noseworthy provided an update to the Board on the following issues:

Privacy:

In 2015, the Health Unit received and responded to five requests under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) and five requests under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).

Provincial Alcohol Strategy:

In December 2015, the provincial government expanded beer sales to select Ontario grocery stores. Ontario also expressed the commitment to continue to develop initiatives to support the safe consumption of alcohol and in December 2015, the government announced it would begin consultations on an Alcohol Policy Framework. In February 2016, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care held a consultation with public health representatives on the draft policy framework during which the paradoxical situation faced by public health was discussed. Public health units are expected to meet the low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines accountability indicator and support the development of a provincial alcohol policy at a time when the government has increased the availability of alcohol.
Following consultations with key stakeholders this winter, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will report back to Cabinet with a proposed alcohol strategy for Ontario in Spring 2016.

Chief Public Health Officer’s Report:

In February, the Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2015: Alcohol Consumption in Canada was released. The report aims to raise awareness of the health impacts of consuming alcohol. With more than 80 per cent of Canadians consuming alcohol in 2013, alcohol is an important public health issue.

New Business

Brighton Office

Approved, a motion to approve a senior staff recommendation to close the Health Unit’s Brighton office. Health Unit staff will continue to offer programs and services in the Brighton community, and a drop off location for water bottles and tick samples will be set up for Brighton residents.
Citing financial constraints as the reason, closing the office will save the Health Unit approximately $115,000 annually. Staff currently working in the Brighton office will have work space in Health Unit’s Port Hope office, however they will be able to utilize free space in the Brighton community to reduce staff travel costs and time, to conduct their work. The Health Unit will continue to offer programs in Brighton, thanks to the support of community partners like the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board at East Northumberland Secondary School, which has rental space available in its school to hold classes and other group sessions.A separate media release was issued on March 17, 2016 with additional details on the decision and the closure.

Accountability Indicators

Received, the 2015 Year-End Indicator Summary Tables for Health Protection and Health Promotion Indicators. The purpose of the indicators is to set out performance and monitoring indicators for health units, support the achievement of improved health outcomes in Ontario, and establish performance obligations for both sides. The 2015 results show continued improvement or maintenance for most of the Health Unit’s indicators, however there were significant declines related to the inspection roles under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA). This was due to the additional work related to SFOA amendments and the introduction of the Electronic Cigarettes Act and the additional time required for sign delivery, providing education, and responding to complaints. Dr. Noseworthy confirmed for the Board that funding from the province is not currently tied directly to the achievement of targets.

Board of Health Quarterly Report – Fourth Quarter 2015

Received, the 2015 Q4 Board of Health report. The report provides a summary on Health Unit activities outlined in the Ontario Public Health Standards and the Ontario Organizational Standards.

Healthy Babies Healthy Children Budget

Approved, a motion to receive $1,019,533 in funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for the Health Unit’s Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. Through this program, infants and children up to age six and their families are provided with assessments to see if there are any risks that could affect a child's healthy development, parents are provided with support and information on topics including breastfeeding, nutrition and health services, parenting programs and family literacy programs. There was no increase in this year’s funding over last year.

Policy

Approved, the Board approved revisions to a Health Unit policy on conducting research.

Next Meeting

The next Board of Health meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 28 and will take place at the Health Unit’s Port Hope office.

For media inquiries, contact:

Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100

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