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Board meeting notes March 19, 2014

Mar 25, 2014
Planning for heat waves in 2014 Strategic priorities for 2014 set by health unit Health unit reports on progress of food charters

Planning for heat waves in 2014

Climate change will have a significant impact on people’s health both now and into the foreseeable future, says Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner. In a report on the health unit’s strategic planning for 2014, Dr. Gardner said climate change has been identified as a priority public health issue that will require a comprehensive response by all services within the agency. One response being planned is creation of protocols during extreme heat events, which should be ready by the summer. Over the longer term, the health unit plans to have an action plan prepared over the next 18 months to deal with the wider challenges of climate change.

Strategic priorities for 2014 set by health unit

A progress report on the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s strategic plan was presented to the board of health this month. In addition to establishing climate change as a major public health priority, the plan covers a wide range of strategies dealing with internal operations as well as external health promotion and protection planning. Some of the highlights include:

  • expanding an internal waste diversion project as part of the agency’s environmental sustainability program,
  • continuing to advocate for community water fluoridation,
  • addressing social determinants of health and the impact of low income on health,
  • compiling a series of assessments of health unit programs conducted to ensure they meet the needs of vulnerable populations.

Health unit reports on progress of food charters

With the Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter finalized, the task is to now use the charter principles as a guide to

concrete actions that help strengthen the local food system. Jane Shrestha, a registered dietitian with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit explained that the health unit is working closely with the County of Simcoe and the Food Partners Alliance of Simcoe County (FPA) to see the charter implemented across the county. Plans for this year include making the FPA website a charter information “hub” that includes a vast bank of implementation ideas drawn from the community; launching a social media strategy to encourage networking; and holding the 2014 Charter Champion Awards to acknowledge the work already taking place in the community. As well as being a supporter of FPA activities, health unit staff in the chronic

disease prevention–healthy lifestyle program also collaborate with community partners at the local level to encourage and support them in their charter implementation work.

Muskoka’s Food and Agriculture Charter is following close on the heels of the Simcoe charter. Health unit registered dietitian Mary Ellen Deane reported that the District of Muskoka, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Savour Muskoka along with the steering committee coordinated a district-wide education and consultation session; an online survey; and key stakeholder interviews in order to gather the community’s vision of what is most important about the food and food systems in Muskoka. Further consultations with cottager associations are planned this summer. The information gathered will be used to create the first draft of the Muskoka Food and Agriculture Charter. It will be released in the fall of 2014, at which time further rounds of community review and input will occur.


Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place April 16

at 9:15 a.m. at 15 Sperling Drive, Barrie, ON.


News releases are stored here dating back to spring 2005. Earlier news releases are maintained in an archive and can be retrieved by calling the health unit during business hours.

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