January 12 Board of Health Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, January 17, 2022

Board of Health Elections & Committee Appointments

As per the Board of Health’s decision in September 2021, it confirmed Mayor Andy Mitchell as Board of Health chair and City Councillor Henry Clarke as vice chair for the coming year. The Board of Health finalized memberships on its various committees as well, including the Indigenous Health Advisory Circle, Stewardship Committee, and the Governance Committee. It is expected these committees will resume their work starting in April 2022 in anticipation of the Omicron surge subsiding.

Update on Opioid-Related Harms

Dr. Piggott presented the latest local health data on the opioid poisoning crisis affecting our community. He noted since the pandemic began, paramedic calls for service regarding opioid use have doubled, and there has also been an increase in calls in outdoor settings (instead of private residences). Local rates of emergency department (ED) visits are consistently twice as high as the provincial average. Males aged 25-44 account for the majority of ED visits. In 2021 there were 44 suspected opioid-related deaths in the Peterborough area, up from 10 deaths in 2016. This rise mirrors the increasingly toxic drug supply in the province of Ontario and across the country. In the last two years, COVID-19 has exacerbated opioid poisonings by making it more difficult for people to access services, and contributed to a deep sense of isolation, anxiety and stress due to the pandemic. Research has shown that half of opioid users have suffered some kind of trauma. Substance use is often linked to the need for relief from psychological and physical pain. Local partners continue to deliver harm reduction programs, such as naloxone and needle exchanges, while endeavouring to bring a Consumption and Treatment site to Peterborough. This is considered a key component to the local response to this public health crisis. They continue to wait for provincial approval having met all the other requirements, including securing a location, developing wrap-around services, receiving federal approvals, and completing renovations thanks to a successful fundraising campaign. The Board of Health passed a motion directing staff to send a letter to Minister Elliott requesting an update regarding the status of the Consumption and Treatment Services site application in Peterborough with copies to local MPPs, the Peterborough Drug Strategy, and Local Councils.

Local COVID-19 Update

The case incidence has grown significantly over the past month with the Omicron surge. For the week of Dec. 26/21 to Jan. 1/22 the local rate was 482 cases/100,000 locally, less than the provincial average of 651 cases/100,000. There have been more deaths recently with 10 since the beginning of December 2021, the average age range was 76 years, and four of them were unvaccinated, including the youngest case in their 40s. PPH is closely monitoring this, but an initial review of the data indicates this increase is due to the high transmissibility of Omicron. PPH is currently managing outbreaks in 19 community facilities, not including schools since provincial direction to public health units changed. On the vaccination front, the community reached an exciting milestone this week of more than 300,000 doses administered since the vaccine arrived.

Mandating COVID-19 Vaccination in the Ontario Immunization for School Pupils Act

The Board of Health endorsed the position Windsor-Essex County Health Unit asking the province to amend the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) to include COVID-19 as a “designated disease”.

Next meeting:

The Board of Health will meet next on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 5:30 p.m., either as an electronic meeting, or in person at PPH offices, if permissible.