Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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All news inquiries can be directed to a central email mediainquiry@smdhu.org

The central phone line is 705-721-7520 ext. 8533

Board Meeting Notes: October 17, 2018

Oct 22, 2018
Cannabis legalization creates many questions about local enforcement; Accessible, affordable, high quality child care important in Simcoe Muskoka

Cannabis legalization creates many questions about local enforcement

Secondhand smoke from cannabis products occupied the Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health’s attention as Canada’s legalization of cannabis became law on Oct. 17.

The board’s meeting took place before the Ontario Legislature had passed a bill that would include cannabis use in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA). Steven Rebellato, Director of Environmental Health, said it was likely that there would be rules allowing cannabis to be smoked wherever tobacco products are now allowed. He cautioned, however, that the final regulations would not be known until the legislation was passed. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner added that the health unit has always supported local municipal bylaws that enhanced SFOA to restrict secondhand tobacco smoke from public spaces, and will now offer help with such bylaw development regarding both tobacco and cannabis smoking. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act is enforced by health units, while municipal bylaws are enforced by municipal bylaw officers.

Accessible, affordable, high quality child care important in Simcoe Muskoka

There are almost five times more children under three years old than there are licensed child care spaces available in Simcoe and Muskoka. Many families struggle to find and afford child care, though subsidies are available for qualifying families if they can access a licensed space.

The picture comes from an assessment of child care completed by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s child health program and presented to the Board of Health at its October meeting. There are currently 4,561 operating licensed child care spaces in Simcoe Muskoka for children 3 and under, but 20,904 children under age 3, Natalie Riewe, the Manager of the Child Health program, said. She stated that child care for a family with two parents earning minimum wage with two children would consume up to 45 per cent of the household spending on unsubsidized spaces. Anything over 20 per cent of household expenses is considered completely unaffordable, she added. Improving the quality, accessibility and affordability of child care is important for the healthy development of young children and to reduce child poverty. The health unit will be writing to the Ministers of Education and Health and Long-Term Care to identify child care as a population health issue and encourage further development of a comprehensive provincial child care strategy. The board determined that the letter will also be forwarded to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, the boards of health throughout Ontario, local MPPs and local municipalities.

 

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place on Nov. 21 at 9:15 a.m.
in the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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