May 11 – Board of Health Summary

Written by Comms Team, May 13, 2022

Harm Reduction Services Update

Carolyn Doris, Manager of Family & Community Health provided an overview of local harm reduction services in the community. Harm reduction, an important component of public health programs, refers to policies, programs and services that are designed to reduce or minimize negative consequences related to legal and illegal drugs/substances. Peterborough Public Health (PPH) continues to monitor deaths related to drug poisonings, and between January 1 and May 11, 2022, there were 16 suspected drug poisoning deaths in the PPH region, with eight of these occurring in April. The Ontario Coroner’s office recently contacted PPH to advise that for one week in April the number of deaths was four times the number compared to the rate in 2021. PPH receives Ministry funding to support two program areas: the distribution of harm reduction supplies (e.g. needle exchange program) and the Ontario Harm Reduction Program Enhancement (including local opioid response initiatives, naloxone distribution and PPH’s Early Warning & Surveillance System). Examples of local harm reduction initiatives were discussed with an emphasis on the importance of involving people with lived expertise.  The Peterborough Drug Strategy is seeking funding to bring a mass spectrometer for use at Peterborough’s Consumption and Treatment Site in downtown Peterborough that would test substances for toxicity prior to use.

COVID-19 Update

Donna Churipuy, Director of Health Protection, introduced the newly updated COVID-19 Tracker that includes the COVID Risk Index. The Index is updated by 4:00 p.m. each Wednesday, and presently remains at the “high” level for the second week in a row. Over the past reporting week the case rate risk level has increased from high to very high as a result of a large number of outbreak-related cases. Currently there are 10 outbreaks in six community settings. Hospitalizations have lowered, and now stand at 18 from cases in the 30s a few weeks ago. The wastewater signal as an overall marker of disease burden in the community is lower than last week, and hopefully this downward trend continues. PPH continues to recommend preventive measures such as masking in public spaces, socializing outdoors whenever possible, and staying up to date on your COVID vaccine series. PPH is planning to relocate the mass immunization clinic at Healthy Planet Arena to a new location, which is yet to be determined.

PPH’s 2022 Budget Approval from Provincial Government

On May 3, PPH received the 2022 Cost-Shared and One-Time Budget approvals from the Ministry of Health. An increase of $70,600 from the province was approved by the province increasing the provincial portion of the cost-shared budget to $7,130,500. In 2022, no increases were provided by the Province for 100% funded base programs with the exception of the Ontario Seniors Dental Program. The Ontario Seniors Dental Program launched in October 2018. Since inception, the program has experienced an increase in clients due to the higher population of eligible seniors in our area seeking access to dental treatment. The budget increase of $198,000 will provide necessary funds to hire additional clinical staff to reduce potential delay in accessing services and provide the best service and care to our clients. As part of the Annual Service Plan, the Province provided an opportunity to submit up to eight one-time projects including COVID-19 Response and COVID-19 Vaccination. Similar to prior years, the Province did not approve all one-time requests as submitted.

Next meeting:

The Board of Health will meet next on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 5:00 p.m. either at 185 King Street, Peterborough or virtual.