May 8 – Board of Health Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, May 13, 2019

Board of Health Budget Working Group Update re: Provincial Funding Cuts and Restructuring of Public Health in Ontario

The Working Group met three times since April 23 and two board members along with local elected officials met with MPP Dave Smith on May 3. The Board of Health representatives prepared a briefing note for MPP Smith that calculated the 2019 budget shortfall to be approximately $612,000, according to what information has been shared to date. Board members also shared their concern with MPP Smith about the size of any regional board being so big as to dilute and weaken the voice of rural Peterborough and the First Nations communities that have been members of the Board of Health since 1995. Chair Kathryn Wilson noted that when considering the role Indigenous partners on a larger governance board, it is also important to recognize one First Nation can’t speak for another as they are unique, sovereign entities, just as one Indigenous group can’t speak on behalf of another (e.g. a First Nation can’t represent Metis or Inuit). The Board agreed to send a letter to MPP Smith summarizing their shared understanding of key principles discussed at the meeting. Vice Chair Kerri Davies who also sits on the Working Group reported back that she was invited to speak at the board meeting for Toronto Public Health on Monday, May 6. Her remarks can be found here.

Curve Lake First Nation Health Centre Update

Robin Steed, Health & Family Services Manager provided an overview of the recreation program developed at Curve Lake First Nation. The goal of this program is to improve quality of life through sport, recreation and cultural well-being. Program staff foster activities for young children and elders that are designed to connect participants with cultural values and practices. There is an emphasis on individual accomplishments, although some competitive team sports are also offered. In addition to the 2 staff, there are more than 30 volunteers who also support community activities. Efforts are underway to fundraise for a larger recreational centre that would be part of the plan to rebuild the local school at Curve Lake First Nation. In addition to recreational work, there are Community Health Representatives who support programs such as diabetes education, healthy eating, community kitchens, community gardens, etc.

Smoke is Smoke – Vaping and the Regulatory Landscape

Keith Beecroft, Health Promoter provided an overview on the changes to federal, provincial and municipal regulations as they pertain to the use and sale of tobacco, e-cigarettes/vapes and cannabis.  According to a 2015-16 survey, 24% of students in local high schools had tried vaping, although it is believed this number is much higher now. Studies show that when young people use e-cigarettes, they are more likely to try tobacco products. The key message for youth is if you don’t smoke, don’t vape, because in addition to the high risk of addiction, nicotine affects memory, concentration, learning, mood and impulse control. While a few single studies show vaping may support cessation attempts, other evidence shows vaping is far from a silver bullet as users trying to quit often use both vapes and cigarettes. Also vaping continues to deliver nicotine during cessation attempts, while other nicotine replacement therapies are designed to reduce nicotine addiction over time. Mr. Beecroft also described the work happening in the schools to promote healthy lifestyles, leadership, and building a strong sense of personal values among students to build their resilience and prevent nicotine consumption.

Legalization of Tailgating in Ontario and Need for a Provincial Alcohol Strategy

The Board of Health has sent a letter to Premier Ford to develop a comprehensive province-wide alcohol strategy to address the potential health and social harms from the modernization of alcohol retail sales in Ontario. The letter stated that alcohol is a legal psychoactive substance, not a regular commodity, and that recent statistics show that approximately 21% of Ontarians who drink exceed the low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, a key risk factor of chronic diseases and injuries. In 2014, Ontario spent $5.3 billion on alcohol-related harms (more than any other substance including tobacco, cannabis and opioids), and yet net revenue from alcohol sales amounted to only $3.9 billion, representing an annual loss of $1.4 billion. Peterborough Public Health supports the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health and other health associations in urging the provincial government to develop a provincial alcohol strategy that balances interests in public health, government revenue, economic development and consumer preferences without sacrificing the health of Ontarians.

Sewage System Management Agreements Update

Dr. Salvaterra reported that at the last meeting of County Council they deferred the decision to extend the current sewage management agreement and develop a working group with Peterborough Public Health to explore changes to safe sewage system management. She will return to the next County Council meeting to follow up on this motion and provide more information if needed.

Marketing of Food and Beverages to Children, Proposed Bill S-228

The Board of Health agreed to send a letter to Senators strongly urging them to immediately accept the House of Commons amendments to Bill S-228, an Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting unhealthy food and beverage marketing directed at children under thirteen years). Given that this is a federal election year, if the Bill does not reach Third Reading during the current sitting (May 2019), it will be lost.

Next meeting:  The next meeting of the Board of Health will take place Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in the Training Room, Otonabee-South Monaghan Fire Department, 21 Third Street, Keene, ON.