Local Board of Health Re-Elects Chair and Vice-Chair for 2020
(LINDSAY) – Facing a turbulent year ahead with potential changes to public health in Ontario, the local Board of Health is sticking with experience at its helm.
At its first meeting of 2020 on January 16, members of the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit re-elected its Chair and Vice-Chair for the coming year. City of Kawartha Lakes Councillor Doug Elmslie, a long-time member of the Board, was unanimously re-elected as Chair. Taking the seat next to him as Board Vice-Chair is John Henderson, the Mayor of Cobourg and a Councillor from the County of Northumberland.
Both served in the same positions on the Board of Health in 2019.
The HKPR Board of Health oversees all Health Unit spending, programs and services provided in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County. The Board consists of six elected councillors from the three communities and one provincially-appointed representative.
The provincial government is currently reviewing the work of Ontario health units, with an aim to “modernizing” their work. Potential changes include amalgamating health units, streamlining their services, and changing the funding formula by shifting more of the cost from the Province to local municipalities.
A special provincial advisor, Jim Pine, is currently consulting with Ontario health units to offer recommendations to the Province on how the restructuring should take place. Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, other senior Health Unit staff, and a number of Board of Health members attended a consultation session led by Mr. Pine in late December to provide initial input.
Dr. Noseworthy told the Board the December session was valuable in putting forward the importance of maintaining public health services that ensure the community’s well-being is not put at risk.
“No one else does the work of health units to investigate outbreaks, follow up on infectious disease cases, inspect restaurants and local food premises, and check that students in school have up-to-date vaccines,” Dr. Noseworthy told Board members. “When you start pulling away the infrastructure of who does that work, you start to have real problems.”
The provincial survey for input into public health modernization closes in mid-February, and the Board of Health intends to provide additional written comments prior to that deadline.
Medical Officer of Health Updates:
Dr. Noseworthy provided these updates to the Board of Health:
New Time and Attendance Program – The Health Unit is implementing a new online time and attendance program in 2020 that is designed to be more efficient and accessible to staff.
Charitable Donation – Health Unit employees gave generously in 2019 to the United Way organizations in Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Staff contributed more than $5,400 to local United Ways through payroll deductions. HKPR staff also made financial donations to the City of Kawartha Lakes Humane Society and A Place to Call Home. As part of a Christmas food drive, Health Unit employees also donated item to Kawartha Lakes Food Source.
Program Budgeting and Marginal Analysis – To find greater efficiencies and reduce costs, the Health Unit is going through a Program Budgeting and Marginal Analysis process to review the way it does business. The goal is to direct funds and resources to programs and services that can deliver the best health results for local residents.
Northumberland Partnership to Advance Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being – A new partnership in Northumberland County is bringing together health and social service providers to break down barriers that can undermine a person’s well-being.
The Northumberland Partnership to Advance Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being includes representatives from the Health Unit, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Northumberland Community Legal Centre, Community Health Centres of Northumberland, Northumberland Family Health Team, and the Trent Hills Family Health Team. Launched in 2018, the partnership is raising education and awareness among local health care providers about barriers that negatively affect people’s health such as lack of income, affordable housing, and nutritious food.
“There is a significant difference in health outcomes and life expectancy between someone who has low income and faces multiple barriers to health than someone who does not face these same challenges,” said Kristina Nairn, a Social Determinants of Health Nurse with the Health Unit, during her presentation to the Board.
This spring, the Northumberland Partnership is planning education sessions in Cobourg and Campbellford for local health care providers. The goal of these sessions is to provide health care providers with tools and resources to help their patients overcome barriers that stand in the way of their wellbeing.
“Poverty isn’t consistently assessed by all health care providers on a regular basis,” Nairn noted to the Board. “If a patient cannot afford to pay for the medication prescribed to them due to low income or lack of a drug-benefits plan, that can be a serious problem.”
Baby Friendly Initiative Update – Health Promotions Manager Dorothea Service provided an update to Board of Health members on the Health Unit’s efforts to support the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) in its area. BFI is a global strategy to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program – The local rollout of a new dental-support program for low-income seniors in Ontario is gaining momentum. Announced last year, the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) is a publicly-funded dental program that will pay for basic dental care for seniors aged 65 and older who make less than $19,300 annually, and couples with a combined income of less than $32,300 per year.
The HKPR District Health Unit has been tasked by the Province to get the OSDCP up and running in its area.
To that end, Board of Health members approved service level agreements with Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes and the Port Hope Community Health Centre to deliver the actual dental services in each community.
The Health Unit is currently looking at options on how the OSDCP will be provided in Haliburton County.
Annual Report 2018 – Received for information, the HKPR District Health Unit’s 2018 Annual Report. It details key programs, services, statistics and other highlights about the Health Unit’s work in 2018.
Quarterly Report –Received for information, the 2019 Q3 Board of Health Quarterly Report. The report outlines the requirements and accomplishments of the Health Unit in the third quarter of 2019.
Received for information, several correspondence items from the Government of Ontario, Ontario Health, Northumberland Ontario Health Team and Association of Local Public Health Agencies.
The next Board of Health meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 13, at 9:30 am in the Health Unit’s Port Hope office.
For media inquiries, contact:
Chandra Tremblay, Manager, Corporate Services: Communication and IT Services, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1212.