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Board Of Health Meeting Notes of November 20, 2019

Dec 19, 2019
Board of Health Meeting Notes of November 20, 2019 covering the following topics: Supervised drug consumption plans in Barrie; Legalized cannabis edibles generate uncertainty; People in our communities are struggling to put food on the table.

Supervised drug consumption plans in Barrie

An advisory committee is actively working on a new search for a supervised consumption site (SCS) location, the Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health has learned. Dr. Lisa Simon, Associate Medical Officer of Health, told the board a site selection advisory committee has been meeting since September to develop an approach and search for site possibilities that will be acceptable to people who use drugs, other local residents, and the community at large, and to advise on a new round of community consultation in 2020. The committee was struck to support the site applicants, Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe Branch (lead applicant) and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (co-applicant), after the city deferred approval of the recommended site at 90 Mulcaster Street. The committee includes a wide range of stakeholders in the city. While the SCS selection process continues, the health unit will aid with completion of the application, in communications and public relations, compiling data and evaluation and providing harm reduction supplies. CMHA Simcoe Branch would lead and operate the site.

Dr. Simon explained that a supervised consumption site is only one strategy within the wide array of efforts within the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy to address the opioid crisis in the region. Between 2015 and 2018, the rate of overdoses continued to accelerate at a pace greater than the average in Ontario.

Legalized cannabis edibles generate uncertainty

In recent years there has been an increasing number of hospitalizations and emergency department visits related to cannabis use in Simcoe Muskoka, particularly among those 15 to 24 years of age, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has found. Current hospitalization statistics, dating from 2009, are now posted on the health unit’s HealthStats website. With edible cannabis products expected to become available in mid-December, the Board of Health expressed concern about risks to children and others. Rebecca Dupuis, manager of the health unit’s Substance Use and Injury Prevention program, said the health unit has been proactively cautioning the public about risks to children, pets and unsuspecting adults. “We know people make their own products,” Dupuis said, “and people may consume without knowing how much cannabis they are ingesting.” Commercially available edible products are subject to strict federal regulations that limit the content of THC — one of the active ingredients in cannabis — and control labelling and marketing.

People in our communities are struggling to put food on the table

With demand for food bank services nearing record levels in many local communities, the challenges of living with low income have been clear for some time. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s annual Nutritious Food Basket Survey shows the problem is only getting worse. Public Health Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Vanessa Hurley said the cost to feed a family of four a basic, healthy diet increased by eight per cent in the last year. The pressure has been continuous, with the cost rising 14 per cent over the last five years. Social assistance and minimum wage salaries have not kept pace with the cost of food or rent, Hurley noted. For families, household food insecurity creates the potential for mental health issues and chronic diseases. Children grow up without proper nutrition, which affects their physical and mental health and learning potential. She stressed that pressure is needed at all levels of government to find the income solutions these most vulnerable people face, so everyone can have access to healthy food in a dignified manner.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place on January 15, 2020 at 9:15 a.m.
in the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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