Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Meeting Notes September 20, 2017

Oct 02, 2017
“Baby Friendly” designation at the health unit; Sweeping proposed changes to public health leave local board concerned

“Baby Friendly” designation at the health unit

It has taken 10 years of meticulous preparation, but the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit feels it now has all the key elements in place to achieve the World Health Organization’s designation as a Baby-Friendly Initiative Facility.

The designation requires policies, infrastructure and training of staff to meet a standard of care and support for all families and children. At the core is the goal of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding and supporting parents to make feeding decisions that meet the needs of their family situation. As part of implementing Baby Friendly requirements the health unit has ensured its offices and community programs provide a welcoming atmosphere for all parents and their infants. It also has programs in place to provide support and advice for families with infants and young children. And it meets the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes to reduce unethical advertising pressure on families from companies selling baby formula and other substitutes.

Local data indicates that over the last few years families are breastfeeding longer and more families are breastfeeding exclusively to six months.

Official designation will be contingent on a final assessment visit by a panel of three assessors this fall.

Sweeping proposed changes to public health leave local board concerned

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit could be merged with the District of Parry Sound, and possibly North Bay, if a provincial report’s recommendations are followed. The report’s recommendations include reducing the number of health units in Ontario from 36 to 14.

Locally, the Board of Health will be sending feedback to the province on the report, prepared by the Expert Panel on Public Health appointed by Minister of Health Eric Hoskins in January. The board feels that while it supports the goals of the panel—to bring closer ties between the health care and public health systems—the recommendations would not accomplish the goals. There was concern with the proposed loss of boundary alignment with municipalities, which would undermine the work of health units fostering health-promoting bylaws that deal with topics such as tobacco control, emergency preparedness, and the upcoming legalization of cannabis. Additionally, the Local Health Integration Networks boundaries do not match the proposed health unit boundaries, which runs counter to the objective of linking the LHINS with public health units. A number of the proposed mergers would result in excessively large health unit areas. Costs of merging health units would be great; there would be the need to ensure that such costs do not impact on the delivery of programs and services.


Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place Sept. 20 at 9:15 a.m.
in the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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