Dishing Out Advice

Meet the Dietitian Events Provide Helpful Nutrition Advice for Families in Area

Healthy eating advice to nurture childhood growth and development will be served up to families in Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton and Northumberland in the coming weeks.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is again offering free Meet the Dietitian events between now and mid-May at local EarlyON Child and Family Centres. Registered Dietitian Laura Abbasi will share her nutrition expertise with parents of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The Meet the Dietitian events run from 10 am to Noon as follows:

City of Kawartha Lakes

  • Monday, March 2, at the Dalton EarlyON Centre (located in Dalton Library, 13 Rumohr Dr., in Sebright).
  • Tuesday, March 17, at the Pontypool EarlyON Centre (located in Pontypool Community Centre, 254 John St.).
  • Thursday, March 26, at the Fenelon Falls EarlyON Centre (located in Fenelon Falls Secondary School, 66 Lindsay St., Rm #133).
  • Thursday, April 23, at the Bobcaygeon EarlyON Centre (located in Bobcaygeon Legion, 96 King St. E.).
  • Friday, May 1, at the Janetville EarlyON Centre (located in Janetville Community Centre, 693 Janetville Rd.).
  • Friday, May 8, at the Woodville EarlyON Centre (located at Woodville Legion on Queen Street).
  • Monday, May 11, at the Little Britain EarlyON Centre (located at Little Britain Library, 9 Arena Rd.).

Northumberland County

  • Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Port Hope EarlyON Centre (located at Beatrice Strong Public School, 90 Rose Glen Rd.)
  • Tuesday, March 10, at the Campbellford EarlyON Centre (located in at Rotary Hall, 179 Saskatoon Ave.).
  • Monday, March 23, at the Cobourg EarlyON Centre – YMCA Site (located in Cobourg YMCA, 339 Elgin St. W.).
  • Wednesday, April 15, at the Cobourg EarlyON Centre – ST. Joe’s site (located in St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School, 919 D’Arcy St.).
  • Wednesday, April 29, at the Brighton EarlyON Centre (located in East Northumberland Secondary School, 71 Dundas St.).
  • Wednesday, May 6, at the Colborne EarlyON Centre (located in Colborne Public School, 8 Alfred St.).
  • Wednesday, May 20, at the Hastings EarlyON Centre (located at Hastings Civic Centre, 6 Albert St.).

Haliburton County

  • Tuesday, April 21, at the Minden EarlyON Centre (located at Archie Stouffer Elementary School, 12 Vintage Crescent, Room #125B).
  • Thursday, May 7, at the Haliburton EarlyON Centre (located at JD Hodgson Public School, 1020 Grass Lake Rd., Rm #2014)

For more details about Meet the Dietitian events, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003.

“Every age and stage in a young child’s life can present its own unique challenges, especially when it comes to healthy eating,” Abbasi says. “The Meet the Dietitian events are designed to provide practical tips and information to parents about good child nutrition.”

Healthy eating is a key building block in a child’s healthy growth and development, but ensuring children get the food they need can be challenging depending on their circumstances, she notes. For example, introducing new and solid foods is often the biggest question facing parents of infants. At the toddler stage, establishing good eating routines is crucial, while parents of preschoolers may find dealing with picky eaters or kids with variable appetites are more pressing concerns.

“We can cover any and all of these topics at Meet the Dietitian,” Abbasi notes. “The sessions are informative, yet informal and allow for one-on-one time with parents who may have specific questions and concerns they want addressed.

For media inquiries, contact:

Laura Abbasi, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1233.

Same Faces, Similar Places

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.

New Business

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 2018Received 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.

Next Meeting:

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.

Break It Off

Many Benefits to Quitting Smoking… and Many Local Resources to Help You Succeed

When it comes to ending relationships, breaking it off with smoking can give you some much-needed breathing space.

Public Health Nurse Karen Taylor knows this full well, noting that as soon as you stop smoking, you start to feel better. For example, your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal 20 minutes after quitting. After 24 hours, your risk of heart attack starts to drop. Within 14 days of quitting, your circulation increases and the airways in your lungs relax. One year after quitting, your risk of smoking-related heart disease or stroke is cut in half.

“Quitting smoking pays off almost immediately, and the great news is that there are supports and resources close at hand to help you succeed,” says Taylor, a nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

During National Non-Smoking Week (Jan. 19-25), the Health Unit encourages local smokers to access the following free quit-smoking programs and contest:

  • If you’re 18-29 years of age, the Ultimate Break It Off Challenge is for you. There are three paths to win cash prizes: break it off from quitting, staying smoke free, or referring/supporting a friend to quit. Choose the contest path that fits your goals. Visit this website before Feb. 6 to enter and win.
  • Local health care providers can help with advice, support and resources to help smokers quit. Family Health Teams and Community Health Centres also provide free assistance and free nicotine-replacement products (like gum and patches). Contact your local health care provider or Family Health Team for more details.
  • Many pharmacists are trained to provide support to people trying to quit. Pharmacists can help you identify the best way to quit, including prescribing the right quit-smoking medications. If you get coverage through the Ontario Drug Benefit, you may be eligible for free counseling and medication. Contact your local pharmacy for more details.
  • Help to quit smoking is just a phone call away. Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service for health advice and information provided by the provincial government. By phoning TeleHealth toll-free at 1-866-797-0000, callers can speak to a Registered Nurse for advice, care and referrals to quit smoking.
  • Visiting the Smokers’ Helpline website provides people trying to quit with many resources and information, including an online chat room, text messaging service and email support.

For media inquiries, contact:

Karen Taylor, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2240.

Take Twenty

‘Family Literacy Day’ Highlights Value of Talking, Reading and Playing with Children to Encourage Literacy Skills

In less time than it takes to watch a TV sitcom, reading with your child for 20 minutes each day can lead to benefits that last a lifetime.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is offering these encouraging words to local families in the lead up to Family Literacy Day on January 27. The awareness day highlights the benefits for parents and caregivers to read, talk, listen, and play with children for 20 minutes each day to help develop strong literacy skills for life. The Family Literacy Day website makes it easy to do this with resources, tips and fun activities.

“As parents, we all appreciate those moments when we can turn off our electronics and plug into quality time with our children by sharing a book, story or joke,” says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “It’s time well-spent, and the research backs this up in a big way.”

ABC Life Literacy Canada is the organization that promotes Family Literacy Day. According to ABC, children whose parents spend time reading and encouraging literacy score better on standardized reading tests. More importantly, says Shaughnessy, children can enjoy improved speech skills that can help them in an ever-changing world.

Shaughnessy understands that tight schedules or a child’s lack of interest can make it difficult for parents to read or do literacy activities for 20 minutes each day. “While that is a reality,” she notes, “there are creative ways to engage and support your child’s literacy skills, even if it doesn’t involve picking up a book.”

For example, Shaughnessy offers some fun ways to encourage literacy skills that won’t feel like learning to children. They include:

  • Playing a board game together or telling knock-knock jokes while doing the dishes.
    Organizing a ‘grocery hunt’ in which children search the store for food items on the family grocery list.
  • Playing ‘home restaurant’ by getting children to create a menu for a meal by drawing food items or using grocery store flyers. To spice up mealtime, children can even take food orders too.
  • Getting children to read different traffic signs along the roadway when travelling out-of-town.
  • Visiting the local library and getting your child a library card. This can increase independence and inspire a child to borrow and read books that are of personal interest.

“Engaging a child for 20 minutes each day to support literacy skills is worth every minute, especially given the rewards for you and your child,” Shaughnessy adds. For additional resources, including speech and language milestones and links to local service providers, visit the KidTalk website.

For media inquiries, contact:

Shelley Shaughnessy, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2307

Tough To Stomach

Cost of Healthy Eating Remains Out of Reach for Many People in the Tri-County Area, Health Unit Finds

New year, same result

That in a nutshell describes the ongoing challenges many families in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes face to pay for healthy food. In its annual pricing for a Nutritious Food Basket in this area, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit estimates an average family of four (two adults, a teen and child) would’ve had to spend nearly $875 per month to eat healthy in 2019. The Nutritious Food Basket consists of more than 60 food items that are nutritious and commonly purchased by people. Items not included in the ‘basket’ are essentials like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste and personal care products.

While the 2019 costing for a nutritious food basket is similar to prices in 2017 and 2018, increases in other monthly expenses such as housing and transportation mean people are struggling to put healthy food on the table, says Sarah Tsang, a Registered Dietitian and Health Equity Coordinator with the local Health Unit.

“People are not making enough money, whether they rely on social assistance or work in minimum-wage jobs,” she says. “This means families must decide if they will buy healthy foods or pay for other basics like rent. Children who live in poverty will pay the price in the long run. We know that not having enough food – or the fear of not having enough – may lead to more anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.”

A recent study shows that many low-income families who cannot afford to eat healthy food work in full- or part-time jobs. Feed Ontario’s Hunger Report 2019 found a 27 per cent increase over the past three years in the number of adults who are working and using food banks.

While food banks, emergency meal programs, and other programs do an excellent job to provide some relief in the short term to address the problem, they are not long-term solutions, Tsang notes. “We forget that food banks were only supposed to be temporary solutions,” she says. “What we really need is to find a long-term solution to food insecurity and poverty.”

Food insecurity is when people do not have enough money to buy food to adequately feed themselves. The problem can only be addressed when people earn enough money, says Tsang. “We need income solutions, such as creating jobs that provide living wages and benefits, increasing social assistance rates that reflect the true costs of living, and setting up a basic income guarantee in Canada,” she adds. “Ensuring there is more adequate and affordable housing will also help.”

With food prices expected to rise again in 2020, local residents are encouraged to find out more about the issue, including the need for a living wage and other income solutions. To do so, they can visit the No Money For Food… is Cent$less campaign website.

For media inquiries, contact:

Sarah Tsang, Registered Dietitian and Health Equity Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1497

A Reason to Smile

Local Seniors Encouraged to Learn About New Program That Covers Costs of Certain Dental Services

A new program is available to Ontario seniors to help them better access dental care.

The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) is a new publicly-funded dental care program for low-income seniors. The OSDCP can help ensure seniors get regular checkups, an important consideration when they have increased risk for dental decay, gum disease and oral cancer. At least two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is helping to promote the new OSDCP in this region. According to Health Unit estimates, approximately 4,000 seniors could be eligible for the OSDCP in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“Oral health has a direct impact on overall health,” says Pam Stuckless, Director of Health Promotion with the HKPR District Health Unit. “This new dental-support program will provide more seniors with access to the dental care they need to prevent more serious problems down the road.”

Who is Eligible?

  • To be eligible for the OSDCP, an Ontario senior aged 65 years and older must have annual income of $19,300 or less.
  • For couples, the combined income is $32,300 or less per year.
  • Program applicants cannot have existing dental benefits.

What dental services are covered by the program?

  • Dental services will include preventive care and treatment services, such as fillings and extractions.

Where can seniors apply?

Seniors who want more information or help to fill in applications can call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577.

For media inquiries, contact:

Pam Stuckless, Director of Health Promotion, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1672

Fight Flu

First Lab-Confirmed Case of Influenza in Region Brings Reminder for People to Get Vaccinated

Influenza is officially here, and so is a reminder for local residents to protect themselves against the flu.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reports the first lab-confirmed case of influenza for the 2019-2020 flu season in its region, which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County. While the local flu case – confirmed on Wednesday – is no surprise, the Health Unit says it is a good reminder for people to get their flu shot.

“This year is no different from previous ones in that we typically see the first evidence of flu activity in November,” says Marianne Rock, Manager of Health Protection with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Since we know flu is circulating in our community, we need to take steps to prevent illness, including getting our free flu vaccine.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months of age and older. This is especially true for those most at risk of getting sick from flu, including: babies, young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Local residents can get a flu shot from their health care provider or pharmacy. The Health Unit is also offering flu shots for children under five years of age, at which time their parents and guardians can also be vaccinated. To book an appointment for these ‘family-friendly’ flu shot clinics, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

This year’s flu vaccine is designed to protect against two strains of influenza A – H1N1 and H3N2 – and a strain of influenza B. This is based on the best predictions of what health experts think will be the main flu virus strains circulating this influenza season.

While the effectiveness of the flu shot varies from year-to-year, based on how well the vaccine matches up with the circulating flu viruses, it is still worthwhile getting vaccinated, Rock adds.

“Even when there is a less-than-ideal match, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection and often reduces the severity of symptoms,” she says. “The bottom line is that even if you get the flu after receiving the flu shot, your illness is usually milder than if you had not been vaccinated at all.”

To further stop the spread of flu this winter, the Health Unit also advises:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Sneezing and coughing into your sleeve.
  • Staying home from work and school if you are sick.
  • Keeping your body’s immune system strong by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and being physically active.

Influenza virus spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People can become infected by touching objects or surfaces with flu viruses on them and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and extreme weakness and fatigue.

For media inquiries, contact:

Marianne Rock, Manager, Health Protection, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1486

Building Support

Lack of Affordable Housing in Health Unit Region Shows Needs for Solutions

High housing costs and a limited supply of rental units are proving a double whammy in efforts to ensure local residents have access to a stable, secure place to call home.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is urging action about the lack of safe and affordable housing in the area, especially given its link to public health. Local residents are being asked to lobby all levels of government to build more affordable housing units. People are also encouraged to be open and welcoming to affordable housing developments and rental units being renovated or built in their neighbourhoods.

The Health Unit’s call to action comes in the leadup to National Housing Day this Friday (November 22) and in the wake of statistics that show:

  • In Northumberland County, the average house price cost is just over $454,000. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people, especially when the average household income in the area is $91,000 per year. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Northumberland is on average between $1,300 to $1,500 per month – if you can find it. With a vacancy rate below one per cent, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.
  • In the City of Kawartha Lakes, the average price for a house in Lindsay is $433,881, according to the November 2019 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) housing report. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment is more than $1,450 per month in City of Kawartha Lakes – if you can find it. With a very low vacancy rate at less than one per cent, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.
  • In Haliburton County, the average local house cost is approximately $247,950 for a non-waterfront property, according to local realtors. This puts home ownership out of reach for many people. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment is around $1,450 per month in Haliburton County – if you can find it. With a very low vacancy rate, there are not enough rental units to meet local demand.

Stable housing plays a key role in a person’s health, according to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). A safe, secure place to live can help people gain employment, enjoy food security, and access social services and health care. Stable housing can also help people who are recovering from mental illness and addiction.

“These findings are worrisome because they highlight the lack of affordable housing in our community – both to buy and rent – and the toll it can take on people’s health,” says Kristina Nairn, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.

Older adults are at higher risk of living in poor quality housing, as they are often on fixed incomes and have complex health needs.

“A stable living environment is so important for our health, because without it, we fall into a vicious cycle of problems,” adds Mary-Lou Mills, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “If people do not have adequate housing, they are less likely to be able to find work and earn money. Without enough income, people cannot afford food and other necessities of life which are essential for personal wellbeing.”

The Health Unit estimates:

  • 12 per cent of residents live in poverty in Northumberland (the rate for children living in poverty is higher at 16 per cent).
  • 13.1 per cent of Kawartha Lakes residents live in poverty (the poverty rate for children 17 years of age and younger is higher at 16.5 per cent).
  • 17.2 per cent of Haliburton County residents live in poverty (the poverty rate for children 17 years of age and younger is higher at 22.9 per cent).

Often, social assistance, disability programs, seniors’ fixed pensions, and low-paying jobs do not provide enough to meet the basic needs of housing and food, Mills adds.

For more information, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1252 or ext. 2304.

For media inquiries, contact:

Kristina Nairn, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1252,

or Mary Lou Mills, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2304

All in the Family

New Physical Activity Guidelines Can Help Parents and Children Get Moving to Improve Their Health

Even as Canadian adults and children get poor marks for being active, a local health promoter says there are ways to get the whole family moving to better make the grade.

ParticipACTION’s first-ever Report Card on levels of activity among Canadian adults gives them an overall ‘D’ grade.

Too much time sitting and not enough time being active are the main reasons for the poor mark, according to ParticipACTION, a national non-profit group that promotes healthy living for all ages.

Children and youth don’t score much better at being active. Based on the most recent ParticipACTION report card from 2018, children and youth in Canada earned a D+ for overall physical activity.

“We know people at all ages and stages of life face challenges from sitting too long or spending too much time in front of screens,” says Lisa Kaldeway, a Health Promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

“That said, there are many good reasons – and resources available – to help us change our lifestyles so we sit less…and sweat, step and stretch more each day.”

One of the best reasons to be physically active are the health benefits that come with it. “Study after study shows a clear link between being active and better physical, mental and emotional health,” Kaldeway adds. “Specifically, physical activity is known to support healthy growth and development in children. It also gives us more energy, decreases stress, makes us stronger and prolongs independence as we age. Being active can also reduce our risk of certain chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.”

Making the most of every minute each day is the best advice to be more active, and newly-developed 24 Hour Movement Guidelines can assist families to do this. There are two versions of the 24-Hour Guidelines available – one with an ‘early years’ focus (children up to age four) and the other aimed at children and youth (ages 5-17 years). Both guidelines – available at ParticipACTION’s Build Your Best Day website ( – encourage a balance between being active, sitting and sleeping enough each day. Resources such as fact sheets, activity posters and games are also available to get youngsters moving.

Kaldeway says adults and seniors 65+ can also discover age-specific resources for themselves at the Build Your Best Day website. “Being active is good for our health, no matter what our age,” she adds. “It’s important that we not overdo it, but instead build up slowly to reach an activity level that is comfortable and appropriate for us.”

For media inquiries, contact:

Lisa Kaldeway, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2207

Lots to Digest

With Cannabis Edibles Now Being Legal, Health Unit Urges Area Residents to ‘Start Low and Go Slow’ to Make Safe Choices

With more cannabis products now legal in Canada, the local Health Unit encourages people to be safe and well-informed if deciding to use these products.

As of October 17, 2019, cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals are legal in Canada. However, people won’t be able to buy these new cannabis products in licensed cannabis stores until at least mid-December. That’s because, over the next 60-90 days, the federal government must first review and approve these products for public use.

“While the new cannabis products will face strict regulations given their potential health and safety risks, it’s also important for local residents to be aware of what is now available and how these substances may affect them,” says Catherine MacDonald, the Substances and Harm Reduction Coordinator with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Just like using tobacco and alcohol, we urge people to be responsible if they choose to use any type of cannabis product. It’s all about moderation… start low and go slow.”

While smoking cannabis has been allowed in Canada since 2018, the additional cannabis products that became legal this fall include:

  • Edibles are products containing cannabis that people can eat or drink, including beverages, candy, and baked goods. By law, these cannabis edibles can only contain a maximum of 10 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per package. THC is one of the main compounds found in cannabis that can affect people’s brain function and ability to think, as well as alter their mood and behaviour. It’s strongly recommended that individuals new to edibles or cannabis should look at the THC content of the product and start with edible cannabis products containing no more than 2.5 mg of THC. “Taking less will let you see how you feel before eating the entire 10 mg product,” MacDonald advises.
  • Extracts include oils and pills that a person takes by mouth, as well as oils used with a vaporizer to inhale. Cannabis extracts taken by mouth act much like edible products. Because their effects aren’t felt immediately, it’s important to be patient and wait until you are comfortable with the effects before consuming more. Oils used for inhalation within a vaporizer will allow users to feel their effects more rapidly and should also be used carefully, MacDonald says.
  • Topicals are cannabis products like ointments, oils, and creams that can be rubbed on the skin. Do not apply topical cannabis to damaged or open skin areas and be sure to wash hands after use to avoid getting any of the product in your eyes. Always follow the label for proper intended use.

MacDonald’s basic advice – to ‘start low and go slow’ – applies to anyone using a cannabis product. Unlike smoking cannabis, eating a cannabis product takes longer to affect a person (since the body takes longer to absorb the THC from edible cannabis). Often, the full effects of cannabis edibles aren’t felt until 30 minutes to four hours after consuming them.

“The intoxicating effects or ‘high’ of eating cannabis products will also last longer, anywhere from six to eight hours,” she adds. “This makes it essential to only use cannabis products in safe environments, free of responsibilities like caring for children, being in the workplace, or having to drive somewhere.”

People should also be extra careful to: not confuse edible cannabis products with regular food items; store all cannabis products in their original childproof package; keep all cannabis products securely and safely stored out of the reach of children and pets; avoid using any form of cannabis with other drugs or alcohol as it can have deadly consequences; and never use cannabis if pregnant or breastfeeding.

To learn more about the safe use of cannabis, visit the federal government or Ontario government websites.

For media inquiries, contact:

Catherine MacDonald, Substances and Harm Reduction Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2401

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