Board of Health February 10 Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, February 12, 2021

Collaborative Action to Address the Gap in Access to Paid Sick Days

Locally, the age bracket with the highest number of COVID-19 cases so far is 20-29 year olds, and this group also has the highest proportion of individuals living on low-income, often in precarious employment. Other Ontario municipalities and boards of health, such as Peel Region and KFL&A Public Health, have requested that paid sick day supports should immediately be enhanced for workers who have COVID-19 or need to isolate because they may have been exposed to the virus. Insufficient paid sick days, financial/income supports, and sick leave protection are known barriers to compliance to COVID-19 control measures, including testing and self-isolation. Due to the lack of paid sick days, many of these workers simply cannot afford to take time off work when sick, fearing income-loss and financial hardship. While the federal and provincial governments have implemented some supports for these workers, these measures have limitations and are barriers. A private member’s bill, Bill 239 “Stay Home if You Are Sick Act”, was introduced to the Ontario legislature and has passed first reading. The Board of Health passed a motion to endorse the principle of supporting paid sick day legislation within the context of an Infectious Disease health emergency, and to request that the province address the broader issue of paid sick days outside of health emergencies after the pandemic has been resolved.

Local COVID-19 Update

Dr. Salvaterra presented the current local pandemic situation. A large portion of cases are the result of contacts to existing cases, and community spread (where no epidemiological link was identified) has dropped, due in part to the strong work of PPH nurses in case and contact management and their support of high-risk contacts to help them self-isolate. Global data was shared that showed countries about to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 variants of concern when public health measures were maintained.

The first dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been completed in all local long-term care homes, with an average uptake rate of 94%. We are now awaiting the next vaccine shipment, due the week of February 22.

The Peterborough Interagency Vaccine Planning Team is meeting weekly to develop our vaccine roll-out plan.  It provides regular updates to the community here. The local target is to vaccinate 75% of the eligible population, which is just over 94,000 individuals.

Advocacy for School Nutrition Programs

Student nutrition programs are increasingly seen as vital contributors to students’ physical and mental health. Growing research demonstrates the potential of these programs to improve food choices and support academic success (including increased ability to learn, improved student behaviours and greater attention spans) for all students. Recently, the Council of Directors of Education/Council of Medical Officers of Health (CODE/COMOH) with support from the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health, submitted six recommendations to strengthen Ontario’s Student Nutrition Program’s reach and impact, and provide much needed supports to address numerous program challenges, many that have been further exacerbated due to COVID-19 (see pages 24-27 of the Board of Health agenda package).

Next meeting:

The Board of Health meets next virtually on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Please click here for a list of Board of Health meeting dates and location details.