Hiawatha First Nation Update
Sharon Wilshaw, Capital Project Coordinator, provided an update on the work underway to build the New Cultural/Community Centre and Office Expansion Project. The new centre will serve as the host venue for events,
conferences, and community gatherings. Construction is expected to last until November 2020. Hiawatha is also undertaking an upgrading of their drinking water supply by supporting interested homes with new point of entry water treatment systems and exploring the potential to install a new water line from wells already present in their community.
Completion of this project is also targeted for 2020.
Update: Community Application for a Supervised Consumption Site
The Board of Health directed Dr. Salvaterra and her staff to pursue all avenues towards the urgent establishment of a moveable supervised consumption site as an interim strategy to address the ongoing opioid crisis in our community.
Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS) are health care facilities that provide sterile equipment and a safe, hygienic space for people who use drugs to consume their pre-obtained illicit drugs under the supervision of trained staff or volunteers who can intervene during life threatening emergencies. For people who are ready to stop or reduce their use of substances, SCS are also an entry point to treatment and social services. Canadian and international evidence shows clearly that they help to save lives, improve health, are cost effective and do not increase drug use and crime in the
surrounding area. Peterborough Public Health (PPH) has been involved in collaborative efforts to complete an application for a drug consumption service since December 2017. In April 2018 PPH was part of a community
collaborative that applied to a provincial funding program to operate an Overdose Prevention Site. Despite the group’s best efforts, the group was unable to secure the permission from a landlord/property owner to operate the site.
Since June 2019, MPP Dave Smith has been leading efforts to secure Consumption & Treatment Services (CTS) funding which
would incorporate “wrap-around services” to connect clients who use drugs to primary care, treatment and other health and social services. Unfortunately, both of the organizations currently offering health and social services that would be eligible to host a CTS have been unable to obtain consent from their property owners. Finding or building a new site to host a CTS will take months, if not years. The board learned that PARN has acquired an ambulance from the County that could be repurposed, in as little as a week’s time, as a moveable CTS. This unit could be positioned strategically in locations in the community where current drug use is occurring, providing a safer environment and an entry point for treatment. Given the urgency of the situation, the board requested that PPH pursue this option with local partners and provincial funders. In addition, the board asked that the Medical Officer of Health’s letter to Minister Elliott on the recommendations from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for a municipal response to the opioid emergency be copied to all provincial party health critics and leaders.
Advocacy on Vaping to Protect Youth
PPH has been long involved in raising concerns regarding the impact of vaping on non-smokers and in particular, youth.
As noted in correspondence from both Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Board of Health, vaping has been greatly increasing among youth in Ontario. PPH responses to federal consultations to date have noted that while vaping may be less harmful than smoking tobacco, it is not harm free. This has been demonstrated most recently by the hospitalization of a young person in the Middlesex-London Health Unit area, following hundreds of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States as a result of vaping-related pulmonary
illness. As of September 18, 2019, all Ontario hospitals must now report hospitalizations due to vaping-related pulmonary illness directly to the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The board of health approved a motion joining other local boards in calling upon the provincial government to immediately prohibit retailers from promoting, displaying or advertising vape products in the same way as tobacco products. In addition, staff was asked to advise all local federal candidates of the call for any newly-elected government to use its powers under the Department of Health Act to
impose immediate restrictions on the promotion of vaping products.
Should Municipalities Ban the Use of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers?
Staff prepared a review of the evidence on health effects related to leaf blowers, in response to a request from a board member that shows in recent years, gas-powered leaf blowers have been gaining the attention of municipalities throughout North America due to the generation of loud noise and air pollution. More than one hundred cities in the United States of America have now banned or limited the use of leaf blowers and more municipalities are expected to follow suit with similar bans or limitations to the use of gas-powered leaf blowers through local by-laws. Potential health
impacts associated with the use of gas-powered leaf blowers may result from the pollution of exhaust emissions, the aerosolization of particulate matter, and the noise from the equipment. Leaf blowers are widely used in urban and rural areas. The Board of Health reviewed the various human health risks associated with gas-powered leaf blowers and learned that the use of a two-stroke leaf blower for thirty minutes of yard work produced the same amount of hydrocarbon emissions as a 6,255 km drive in an F-150 pickup truck. Restrictions to leaf blowers can help protect public health.
Limiting the times when leaf blowers can be used will help to reduce the negative effects associated with engine emissions, aerosolization of fine particulate matter, and the creation of health-impacting noise. Many Canadian municipalities are opting to include restrictions to the use of leaf blowers as part of local noise or nuisance by-laws, but none have taken the route of a total ban. Since all residents can be affected, municipalities within Peterborough may wish to consider local restrictions. The board asked that it be shared locally.
Health Care Worker Influenza Immunization Rates 2018-2019
Peterborough Public Health’s annual report on healthcare worker (HCW) flu shot rates shows more health care workers are taking advantage of the annual immunization as a way to protect themselves and their patients. 2018-19 rates of staff immunization, collected as of December 15, 2018, put Peterborough ahead of the provincial median of 52.6% for hospitals and 72.8% for long term care facilities (LTCF). Last year, the rates for Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and LTCFs were 72.3% and 79%, respectively. PRHC achieved a 9.7% increase in staff immunization rates over the previous influenza season, an impressive jump credited to the effective coordination of several internal programs plus
incentivizing staff to get their flu shot. Last year, Peterborough experienced a total of 10 influenza outbreaks. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) considers the provision of influenza vaccination to be an essential component of the standard of care for all HCWs for the protection of their patients.
The Board of Health meets next on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in the Dr. J. K. Edwards Board Room,
third floor, 185 King St., Peterborough, Ontario.