April 2019 Board of Health Meeting

As the Chair of the Board of Health, I am honoured to work alongside my fellow board members and City staff to not only shape public health policy, but to promote healthy and informed communities.

Please see below a summary of items we will be considering at the April 8th Board of Health meeting.

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy is a growing concern internationally and has been identified as a top ten threat to global health by the World Health Organization. In Canada, an estimated 20 percent of parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children and are unsure about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Social media and the internet play a significant role in spreading misinformation about vaccines and have contributed greatly to vaccine hesitancy.

It is critical that at Toronto Public Health, we build a robust framework to not only continue to educate the public on the critical benefits of vaccinations, but to combat mis-leading information in the public domain.

Clear and truthful messages supporting vaccines and the importance of immunization in protecting health are critical to combatting vaccine hesitancy. The Board of Health will consider recommendations to develop a strategy to combat vaccine hesitancy, to help address this growing concern and the role the federal government, as well as international, national, and provincial organizations can play to support these efforts. Read the recommendations here.

Ontario Government's Proposed Changes to the Provincial Health Care System

In February, the Provincial Government announced significant changes to the health care system in Ontario. Although many details are still unclear, included is the elimination of Local Health Integration Networks, which are substantial partners in the delivery of health services in Toronto, and of the City and Toronto Public Health in general.

It is critical that we, given our role in building healthy communities and facilitating the delivery of health services in Toronto, understand the impacts for the City of the emerging new landscape of health care in this province.

To do so, City Council approved my motion to request the Medical Officer of Health to report to the April 8, 2019 meeting of the Board of Health on the implications of the changes to the health care system in Ontario recently announced by the Provincial Government for the City of Toronto. In the coming months, we will continue to consider this critical issue as more information becomes available. Read the report on the proposed changes here.

Heat Relief Services Update

In January 2019, City Council adopted a report from the Medical Officer of Health that proposed a strategy for heat relief services in order to put the City in a stronger position to protect residents from extreme heat. Although the Board of Health has approved recommendations for the Heat in Apartments Working Group to identify additional strategies to address indoor temperatures in apartment buildings, we are continuing to work to promote and expand these strategies. At the April Board of Health meeting, the Director, Healthy Public Policy, and Interim Director, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Toronto Public Health, will provide a presentation, at our request, on a robust communication strategy regarding shoulder systems and managing heat in apartment buildings.

Health Impacts of Alcohol Consumption Update

Alcohol consumption remains a leading risk factor for acute harms and chronic disease in Canada. Though the proportion of Ontario adults consuming alcohol has remained stable over the past two decades, the amount of alcohol consumed per person has increased significantly. The Medical Officer of Health will present a report on the health impacts of alcohol consumption, recent changes to where and how alcohol is accessed, and evidence on mitigation measures. Read the report here.

Disclosure of Infection Prevention and Control Inspections of Licensed Child Care Centres in Toronto

Toronto Public Health's (TPH) inspection staff conduct Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) inspections at approximately 1,050 licensed child care centres annually under the Infection Prevention and Control Protocol, 2018 of the Ontario Public Health Standards. Effective July 1, 2018, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care added a new requirement through the Infection Prevention and Control Disclosure Protocol, 2018 that all IPAC inspections of licensed child care centres be made available online on the Board of Health's website.

The Board of Health will consider a staff report which provides an overview of TPH's actions towards fulfilling this new requirement of the Ontario Public Health Standards. Toronto Public Health will launch the online web disclosure system in September 2019. Read the report here.

Appointments to the Toronto Food Policy Council

The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) was created as a Subcommittee of the Board of Health (BOH) in 1991 to keep Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the BOH abreast of emerging policy issues, trends, challenges, and possibilities related to fostering an equitable, sustainable food system. The Medical Officer of Health will present a report which provides an update on the membership for, and recommends appointments to, the TFPC.