MEETING PREVIEW: Board of Health Meeting for February 1, 2023

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Board of Health will welcome February with their monthly meeting, and it will be a very interesting agenda that will look at the programs that might have suffered from all the emphasis on COVID-19 in the last few years, and the immediate plans and priorities for the public health unit in the next 12 months. Infectious diseases is going to be a pretty big topic, but this won’t be the COVID-19 show.

NOTE #1: This meeting will be available to watch online, but you will have to send a request to join the meeting via an online form that you can find here. Deadline to send in the request is Wednesday February 1 at 11 am.

NOTE #2: The meeting begins at 2 pm.

MOH Update(s)– Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer will deliver her verbal report  on current matters facing Public Health, which will likely include some insight about the latest COVID-19 numbers and the status of this flu season in the region.

PRESENTATION: Immunization Requirements for Students Attending Schools in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph – COVID interruptions didn’t just affect classroom learning, it affected the timing of regular vaccinations that young people received including vaccines for Polio, Measles and Meningococcal Meningitis. Compared to the 2017 /18 school year when 95 per cent of students had their Polio jabs, 91.8 per cent had their Measles, and 75.4 per cent had received their Meningitis shots, those numbers were 90.9 per cent, 83.3 per cent, and 88.5 per cent in 2021/22. Public Health will be continuing to hold community clinics and co-ordinating with primary car givers to make sure young people stay up-to-date on their vaccines.

PRESENTATION: School-Focused Nurses Initiative – A unique program started by the Ontario government during the 2021/22 school year, Public Health reports that the School-Focused Nurses Initiative was successful in meeting its objectives, benefiting the public health response and establishing a template that can be used in future public health emergencies. The Ministry of Health approved funding in September that will keep the program going until June. Public Health has to produce a report as part of the funding.

Business Arising – There are some pretty straightforward changes to a couple of bylaws. Under Bylaw No. 5, there’s a couple of corrections to make sure that the current Medical Officer of Health and the Associate MOH are identified as well as the correct name of the Huron Perth Health Unit. Bylaw No 6 will be updated to include the correct titles for the CAO and the Director of Administrative Services, plus the inclusion of the role of Associate MOH.

Trends in Diseases of Public Health Significance – Fun fact: There are 68 Diseases of Public Health Significance, or DoPHS, that the public health unit tries to stay on top of. These diseases range in communicability and virulence and have mandatory reporting requirements to public health units. In the reporting period of 2013 to 2022, there have been no increase or decrease in trends in any of the monitored diseases with the exception of two: cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic disease, and Lyme Disease, which is transmitted by the black-legged tick.

Cryptosporidiosis is on the rise, and that might be because of more sensitive diagnostic techniques or because milder winters are making it easier for the disease to spread. The disease is often seen in farm animals, especially dairy cows, and because so much of the WDG is rural, that could be the reason why we’re seeing the increase more prevalently here as opposed to the rest of Ontario. Lyme Disease is a bit different because rates have been increasing across North America as climate change has allowed ticks to survive longer.

The report does note that measures taken during the pandemic may have reduced transmission of some diseases over the last few years, but it also reduced access to primary care and testing which had an impact on the data.

Clinical Services Annual Review – WDG Public Health gave out 10,000 vaccines in the 2021/22 school year for the usual slate of diseases including HPV, Meningococcal and Hepatitis B, and there one was only adverse event about a week after that student received their shot. The rate of Hepatitis C decreased in 2022 despite increased monitoring, and the number of gonorrhea cases remained stable. At the same time, the number of cases of infectious syphilis went up last year even though the monthly rate is well below provincial levels, and there was only one new active case of Tuberculosis in the region in 2022.

Health Protection 2022 Year End Performance Indicator Summary – This is straightforward information, statistics from all the inspections and recordings that Public Health did last year from the “Check Before You Choose” program to monitoring outbreaks in facilities and other disease monitoring. There were some interruptions to these programs during the heat of COVID-19, but these programs are almost entirely running at full-steam again. The last piece, youth access inspections – or making sure retailers aren’t selling cigarettes to underage kids – will be starting again this year.

Strategic Framework 2023 – Like the City of Guelph, Public Health used to have a long-term strategic plan process, but they’ve been doing one year at a time since 2019 when the Ontario government started flirting with amalgamating the public health units and was then thrown further off-track by the pandemic. For 2023, Public Health is looking at three pillars; the first will focus on improvement inside the Public Health organization, the second will involve outreach to community partners, and the third will look outward to advance the work of Ontario Health Teams and become a leader in the public health systems. Public Health will be trying to get back to long-term strategic planning for 2024.


MOH Update(s) – This topic is “the security of the property of the BOH”, so for obvious reasons, this will be discussed in closed session.


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