Dr. Bocking provided a general update on the status of the 2022/23 respiratory season, highlighting the previous increased burden on the acute care sector related to influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19.

Dr. Bocking’s report included the following:

The burden has eased significantly on emergency departments. Influenza had an earlier than usual peak in mid-December and has come down significantly. To date in this respiratory season, there have been 40 hospital admissions and one death among residents across HKPR District Health Unit due to influenza.

The pandemic is not over. In 2022 we saw significant changes to our approach to COVID-19 with easing of many public health measures as individuals adjusted their risk tolerances and governments adjusted their approaches. In 2023 we can expect the continued emergence of new Omicron sub-variants. The latest variant is XBB1.5 and is anticipated to lead to an increase in COVID-19 infections within the next month. Unfortunately, this new sub-variant is even more infectious and the medication Evusheld is not effective against this sub-variant in preventing infection among people with severely compromised immune systems.

Multiple layers of protection will continue to be needed to prevent infection and severe illness from COVID-19. This includes masking, being aware of symptoms and staying at home if you’re sick, vaccination, and general respiratory etiquette (wash hands, cover cough, etc.). With the continued high transmission of COVID-19 globally, there remains a risk that a new variant of concern may arise that may decrease the effectiveness of current tools to prevent transmission and result in the need for an emergency response.

According to Dr. Bocking’s report, the HKPR District Health Unit is focusing on the following 2023 priorities: Strategic Plan Rollout, Continued Integration and Response for COVID-19, Ability to Address Concurrent Public Health Needs and Urgencies, and Addressing the Backlogs of the Redirection of Public Health Resources.

10.1 Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) Training

Presenter: Dorothea Service, Manager Health Promotion

Board members watched a training video in accordance with annual training requirements of a baby-friendly designated organization. The HKPR District Health Unit became a baby-friendly designated organization in 2018. To uphold the BFI Initiative, we support families to make informed decisions about how to feed their baby, free from commercial influence. We have successfully gone through the BFI Initiative 10 Steps and continue to hold onto our designation. We have a BFI Initiative Policy and Procedures to ensure a safe space for families to feed their infants and support employees to feed their infants, our resources are free from commercial influences and that families can access any space to feed their infant.


10.2 Foundational Standards
Presenter: Fiona Kelly, Director of Foundational Standards & Chief Nursing Officer
For the complete presentation please view our LIVE video recording online.

10.3 Health Promotion
Presenter: Pam Stuckless, Director of Health Promotion

For the complete presentation please view our LIVE video recording online.

10.4 Health Protection
Presenter: Anne-Marie Holt, Director of Health Protection
For the complete presentation please view our LIVE video recording online.

11. New Business


11.1 2022 Year-End Financial & Cyber Insurance Update
Presenter Angela Vickery, Director of Corporate Services

Angela Vickery provided a brief update on 2022 year-end financial activities. The audit process is due to start in March 2023 and further information will be provided following the audit.

At the November 2022 Board of Health meeting, staff informed the Board that the corporate insurance program has renewed. The final cyber policy was renewed with a slight increase in the annual premium for a total of $35,000.

For the complete presentation please view our LIVE video recording online.

11.2 2023 Budget Consultation
Presenter Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health, and Chief Executive Officer

The Province of Ontario has opened consultations for their 2023 Budget. We have an opportunity to provide input for a submission being put forward by the Association of Local Public Health Agencies as well as to do a direct written submission to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs. Key points put forward to the Board of Health for endorsement included:
– The need for continued mitigation funding and review of the provincial direction to change the cost-shared funding formulas from 75/25 (provincial/municipal) to 70/30.

– The need for sustained funding to continue responding to COVID-19 and the urgency in moving this funding to expanded base funding as opposed to one-time funding.

– The need for dedicated funding to address the backlog of public health services (e.g. oral health screening).

– The need for maintaining funding to support prevention initiatives. Long-term solutions for the acute care system are rooted in prevention.

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