June 10 Board of Health Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, June 15, 2020

This meeting was held by video conference in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial emergency order prohibiting gatherings of more than five people.

Update on Board of Health Position Paper on Modernization

The Board’s position paper, The Modernization of Public Health in Ontario, was submitted to the Ministry on February 10, 2020. At the direction of the Board’s Modernization Working Group, staff approached local Councils and organizations to seek endorsement and support of the paper. Letters of support have been received from several organizations, including the Peterborough Police, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Community Living – Trent Highlands, and Peterborough Family Health Team. Presentations with all local government Councils were scheduled, however most were cancelled due to COVID-19. The position paper continues to circulate to Councils for information, and the Board’s funding Councils will be asked for a formal endorsement.

Consolidated Financial Statements for 2019

The 2019 consolidated financial statements for Peterborough Public Health were audited by Baker Tilly KDN LLP in accordance with the Canadian generally accepted auditing standards. The audit concluded that the 2019 financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Peterborough Public Health in accordance with the Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards.

COVID-19 Update

Dr. Salvaterra provided an update on the local COVID-19 situation, and reported that as of June 9, 2020 there are only four local active cases. The local hospitalization rate is very low, as is the cumulative case incident rate (61 cases per 100,000 vs. the provincial rate of 210 cases). COVID-19 testing activity in our area has been very strong with one in 13 residents tested so far (approx. 11,100 people). Drive-through testing is now being offered both at the Kinsmen in the City of Peterborough, and at various locations through-out the County and at both First Nations. On June 12, the Ontario government announced a regionalized approach for 24 of 34 health units who are able to move into Stage Two of the recovery, including Peterborough Public Health. Staff have planned webinars to support business owners/operators from various sectors with their questions and need for public health guidance specific to their setting. As new settings are allowed to open subject to public health measures, residents are asked to continue physical distancing (including when gathering with anyone outside one’s household), washing hands frequently, staying home if sick, limiting outings, and wear masks when physical distancing can’t be maintained. Peterborough Public Health is planning to adjust its operational structure to maintain its COVID-19 response while resuming other public health programs in the coming weeks and months.

Basic Income for Income Security During the Pandemic and Beyond

Basic Income is an evidence-based policy to reduce health-inequities and address inadequate incomes, an important social determinant of health that also impacts food insecurity. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more Canadians were already experiencing household food insecurity in 2017-18 than recorded previously, with about 4.4-million (1 in 8) Canadians being food insecure, including 1.2 million children under age 18. People living in the Peterborough area experience several acute challenges related to poverty and food insecurity. For example, half of single mothers in Peterborough cannot afford adequate food to feed their families. Also, more than half of local renters are housing insecure, paying more than 30% of their income on housing, with almost a quarter of them paying more than 50%. In fact, Peterborough has the highest percentage of renting households with unaffordable shelter costs in Canada. Peterborough’s significant rural community also experiences distinct vulnerabilities to poverty such as transportation costs, social isolation, and distance from resources. Farmers are particularly at-risk for poverty as, for instance, total net farm incomes in Ontario dropped severely from 2017 to 2018. These groups and others, like all Canadians, require sufficient incomes to meet their basic needs to allow them to participate in society, and to support resilience in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitioning the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into a basic income for all Canadians will provide those groups most impacted by COVID-19 the income security they need to recover and build a healthy future. The Board of Health passed a motion endorsing the letter received from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit which requested that the federal government evolve the emergency income supports available to address the financial impacts of COVID-19 into legislation for basic income. This support will be communicated to the federal government, with copies to the Premier of Ontario, local MPs and MPPs, local government councils, opposition critics, Association for Local Public Health Association, Ontario Public Health Association and Ontario Boards of Health.

Next meeting:

The Board of Health meets next on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. at Hiawatha First Nation (venue subject to change based on provincial public gathering orders). Please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca for updates.