November 14 – Board of Health Meeting Summary

Written by Communications, November 16, 2018

Staff Recognition – 30 Years of Service at Peterborough Public Health

Public Health Inspector Kathleen Shepherd was recognized for her 30 years of service in the Septic Inspection Program at Peterborough Public Health (PPH).  When she started in 1988, she became the first female Public Health Inspector to ever work at PPH. Her work inspecting septic systems throughout the County of Peterborough has played a key role in protecting rural watersheds and ensuring safe water supplies for local residents.

Board of Health Membership Update

As the Board of Health prepares for its transition following the recent municipal elections, it bid farewell to fellow members Lesley Parnell, Mary Smith, John Fallis and Rick Woodcock. New members from the City and County of Peterborough have yet to be named and will be introduced at the Board’s next meeting on January 12, 2019.

Travel Clinic Update

In September the Board of Health decided to close its Travel Clinic on November 1, 2018 as a result of changes to the Ontario Public Health Standards which no longer mandate public health agencies to provide these services. PPH has since reached out to other healthcare providers and is pleased to share that two local pharmacies, Sullivan’s IDA Pharmacy, and The Medical Centre Pharmacy, have expressed interest in taking on this role, and have already begun offering travel clinic services to the community. Patients are being referred to these pharmacies if they require a travel consultation.

Vision Screening Program Update

PPH has developed a survey to all Ontario Boards of Health asking about their approach to delivering the new vision screening requirement outlined in the 2018 Ontario Public Health Standards.  To date, 19 responses have been received and most appear to be delivering a modified version of the requirements. A report is being prepared by PPH staff and will be shared with the board at its next meeting. In the meantime, PPH has purchased the $16,000 in vision screening equipment and continues to collaborate with community partners, boards of education and neighbouring local public health agency to prepare to deliver vision screening for Senior Kindergarten children who have not had an examination by an optometrist. Optometry assessments are available to all children as a covered benefit under OHIP.    

Fundraising Strategy

The Board of Health for Peterborough County and City is a registered charity that has undertaken fundraising activities in the past on an ad hoc basis. Usually these campaigns related to specific needs, such as the successful effort to raise capital funds to build Myrtle’s Kitchen. The Board contracted The Dennis Group to explore the feasibility of a more strategic approach to fundraising for non-funded public health programs.  There are increasing community needs as supports for basic needs for our vulnerable communities stagnate or are diminished. Although funds raised through donations are not directed towards core mandated programs and have no direct impact on PPH budgets, the funds raised are directed towards community needs that would otherwise go unmet. Jennifer Garland from The Dennis Group presented the results of their assessment of local philanthropic opportunities for PPH.  The report was referred to Governance Committee for consideration and recommendations to the Board on proposed fundraising model options.

Update: 130th Anniversary Celebrations of Peterborough Public Health

Peterborough Public Health (PPH) will be marking a very special milestone in 2019 – the 130th anniversary for the Board of Health for the County and City of Peterborough. Several activities are being planned, including a one-day conference on February 9, 2019 organized by the Peterborough Historical Society (PHS) and PPH.  More information is available at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/130.

Food Safety & Healthy Environment Program Standards

Atul Jain, Manager of Environmental Health Programs, provided an overview of the new Ontario Public Health Standards relating to his program area that took effect January 1, 2018.  The goal of the Food Safety standard is to prevent and reduce the burden of foodborne illness in the community.  With the new standards it is now mandatory that all food premises have a certified food handler working during operating hours. The goal of the Healthy Environments standard is to reduce exposure to health hazards and promote the development of healthy built and natural environments that support health and mitigate existing and emerging risks, including the impacts of a changing climate. Mr. Jain noted an important environmental health initiative underway includes a series of radon education sessions taking place in the County and City of Peterborough from November 2018 to January 2019. Homeowners who attend will receive a free radon test kit. Further details are available at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/radon.

2019 Cost-Shared Budget Approval

The Board of Health approved the 2019 cost-shared budget for public health programs and services in the amount of $8,434,560 including Mandatory Public Health Programs, Small Drinking Water Program, and the Vector Borne Diseases Program. This includes a projected deficit of $130,441. This deficit will be funded through the judicious use of board reserves. The approved budget will depend upon an 8.3% increase to local contributions from the County, City and two First Nations. Senior staff have already appeared before County Council and anticipate approaching the City once it is ready to begin its budget consultations. Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nation Councils will also be offered the opportunity to hear directly from the Medical Officer of Health and her senior staff on the board’s three prong approach to address its ongoing funding challenges. The three prongs include advocating to the province for sustainable funding, increasing the local proportion of funding to 30% over three years, and having a plan on how and when to use reserve funds. Although the province is the major funder for local public health, it has indicated that there will be no additional funding to support the new requirements of cannabis enforcement and vision screening in schools.

Next meeting:

The Board of Health meets next on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the J.K. Edwards Board Room, third floor, 185 King St., Peterborough, Ontario. It will elect its new executive and appoint members to its three committees at that time.