Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Meeting Notes, June 21, 2017

Jul 06, 2017
Calorie tallies on menus; Opioid funding; new on the Board of Health

Calorie tallies on menus being monitored

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has been inspecting local chain restaurants since April to be sure they are complying with the new Healthy Menu Choices Act. Under the act, all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell on their menus, along with a statement about the recommended daily caloric intake for adults and children. Renée Gaudet, a Registered Dietitian and public health nutritionist, told the Simcoe Muskoka District Board of Health that the law is intended to help people make informed choices about their meals, since research has shown they generally underestimate the calories in restaurant meals. A research project at the University of Toronto found that the average sit-down restaurant meal in Canada had 1,130 calories, more than half the daily calories needed by an adult.

Gaudet said the act was something Simcoe Muskoka, along with other health units, had been calling for since 2012. Asked why other nutrients like salt and sugar are not included in the information, Gaudet said public health has recommended that salt be included, and that the legislation allow for additional nutrients to be added as the evidence allows.

Funding to manage opioid overdose

The Simcoe Muskoka District Board of Health has learned the province will provide the health unit with up to $250,000 in additional funding to support local opioid response initiatives. The funding announcement by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins indicated the money was to allow more public health staff to support distribution of naloxone and enhanced surveillance of opioid overdoses. However, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said that the letter did not provide detailed direction on when or how the funding would be provided.

Locally, the rate of opioid overdoses is substantially above the provincial average, with 43 opioid deaths occurring in Simcoe and Muskoka in 2015. Opioid poisoning deaths have been increasing over the last decade, hitting young males 25 to 44 years old the hardest.

New on the Board of Health

The Simcoe Muskoka District Board of Health welcomed a new provincial appointee to the board this month. Peter Praeger is serving the last of a six-year term on the board of the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network, and had worked as the Deputy Director of the Companies and Personal Property branches of the Ontario government. He has also held a number of executive positions in information technology and project management in the private sector. Praeger lives in Wasaga Beach, where he has been a committee member of the Wasaga Beach Healthy Community Network and the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre board. The Board of Health is comprised of seven elected municipal officials and six individuals appointed through the Provincial Appointments Secretariat. 

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