January 8 – Board of Health Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, January 13, 2020

Selwyn Mayor Andy Mitchell Elected as New Chair of Board of Health, Provincial Appointee Kerri Davies Elected Vice Chair

At its inaugural meeting of the new year, the board held elections for its 2020 positions. Andy Mitchell, Mayor of Selwyn Township was acclaimed as the new board chair, and Kerri Davies, Provincial Appointee was also acclaimed for her second term as vice chair. The board expressed its sincere appreciation to outgoing chair Kathryn Wilson for her strong leadership in 2019. Members at large serving the Board of Health for 2020 include:

  • Bonnie Clark, Deputy Mayor, Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan
  • Henry Clarke, Councillor, City of Peterborough
  • Greg Connolley, Provincial Appointee
  • Matthew Graham, Deputy Mayor, Township of Cavan Monaghan
  • Nodin Knott, Councillor, Curve Lake First Nation
  • Catherine Praamsma, Provincial Appointee
  • Andy Sharpe, Provincial Appointee
  • Don Vassiliadis, Councillor, City of Peterborough
  • Michael Williams, Provincial Appointee
  • Kathryn Wilson, Councillor, Hiawatha First Nation
  • Kim Zippel, Councillor, City of Peterborough

No Food is Cent$less Report on Local Food Insecurity

In May 2019, PPH staff priced out the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB). The NFB is Ontario’s standardized food costing tool used by local public health agencies to measure the costs of healthy eating.  Foods included belong to the food groupings found in Canada’s Food Guide. The cost of feeding a family of four in Peterborough rose to $938 per month in May 2019. That represents 12% of an average family’s income. In contrast, this food cost represents 26% of the income of a family supported by a minimum wage earner or 36% of the income for a family receiving Ontario Works benefits. This shows that for people living on low incomes, there is not enough money left to buy healthy food after paying housing and utility costs. The full report is available on www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca under “Reports & Data” or by clicking here.

Modernization of Public Health – Update

Provincial plans to restructure the organization and delivery of local public health services continue to unfold as the Ministry of Health announced on November 18, 2019 that it wanted to “reset” its approach and would engage in consultations with municipal leaders, boards of health and community partners to inform any system-wide changes. Immediately following this announcement, the Board of Health invited newly-appointed provincial special advisor Jim Pine to hold a consultation at Peterborough Public Health, which was accepted. Special Advisor Jim Pine facilitated a full day of meetings in Peterborough on December 19, 2019. Also present were Ministry of Health Assistant Deputy Minister Alison Blair, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, and several representatives from Durham Region, City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, Haliburton and Peterborough.  Peterborough Public Health board members participated actively and made many good points. Among them was the importance of focusing on our communities as our key clients, the use of evidence for decision-making, and the importance of governance, especially by municipalities (In Peterborough, this includes both Curve Lake FN and Hiawatha FN) who will be expected to pay a larger share of public health costs.

As part of the consultation process the Ministry of Health has also invited submissions in response to its Discussion Paper on Public Health Modernization. Peterborough Public Health’s board has prepared a response identifying the key “principles of reform” that should guide any future restructuring. This response will also inform Peterborough Public Health’s submission to the provincial survey developed to gather feedback to specific components of the government’s restructuring proposal. The principles include:

  • The enhancement of health promotion and disease prevention must be the primary priority of any changes undertaken;
  • Investments in public health must be recognized as a critical strategy in reducing the need for hallway health care;
  • Any consolidation of public health units should reflect a community of interests which include distinguishing between rural and urban challenges and facilitates the meaningful participation of First Nations;
  • Adequate provincial funding is necessary to ensure effective health promotion and prevention activities in Ontario. Funding should be predictable and consider factors such as equity, population demographics and density, rural/urban mix and increase to meet new demands;
  • Local funding needs to consider a municipality’s ability to pay in the context of the broad range of changes in funding arrangements between the Province and municipalities;
  • As public health is a joint municipal-provincial venture, its governance structure must provide accountability to the local councils that are required to fund local public health agencies;
  • Changes undertaken need to be evidenced based and not ideologically driven; and,
  • Change must be driven from the bottom up, in a process that respects both Provincial and local interests and facilitates genuine collaboration.

In closing, the board’s response observed that back in the 1990s and early 2000s, “Ontario experienced a prolonged drought for public health that was brought to light with the tragedies of both SARS and Walkerton. We hope that important lessons have been learned and that the neglect that occurred in the past will not be repeated. In order to do that, boards of health need to know that the province is committed to investing in public health in order to protect its citizens and keep our communities open for business.”

Next meeting:

The Board of Health meets next on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. in the Dr. J. K. Edwards Board Room, third floor, 185 King St., Peterborough, Ontario.

 

A list of Board of Health meeting dates and locations can be found here.