Board of Health Meeting Update

The Ottawa Board of Health (BOH) met on Monday, September 18th. The following reports were reviewed and considered:

Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention – Status Update

This report provided an update on OPH work with respect to harm reduction and overdose prevention over the summer months and recommended that OPH enter into a time-limited Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (SHCHC) to operate an interim Supervised Injection Service (SIS) at 179 Clarence Street.

The report referenced a significant increase in suspected overdoses in Ottawa, starting in June 2017, as demonstrated by Ottawa Paramedic Services reported number of naloxone administrations, the number of suspected drug overdose-related emergency department (ED) visits, the number of suspected opioid overdose deaths to which the Ottawa Police Service has attended, and anecdotal information from community groups and other service agencies with respect to suspected overdoses and deaths that may not be seen by paramedics, emergency departments or police.

In addition to approving the proposal for an interim SIS at 179 Clarence, the Board directed further action with respect to: facilitating an expedited approval for the Somerset West Community Health Centre’s application to Health Canada for an exemption from the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in order to operate a SIS at its location, at 55 Eccles Street; bringing forward a progress report, at the first meeting of 2018, based on the first 60 days of operating the interim SIS at 179 Clarence Street; and bringing forward, as part of the progress report, recommendations for a more permanent solution for enhancing OPH’s harm reduction services through the provision of SIS at fixed or mobile facilities, either directly or through partner agencies.

As Chair of the Board I support the report going forward based on the fact that many lives are being lost. In the past I have said that I did not support SIS as a solution unless the model being proposed supports treatment options and counselling that can be on hand for the users to access. I will continue to work with OPH and our partners recognizing that, while SIS is an important component of any comprehensive approach to working with people who inject drugs, it will not solve all the issues. Treatment, education and guidance to recovery is imperative both from a proactive and reactive approach.

Update on Ottawa Public Health’s Immunization Strategy

In follow-up to a report provided to the Board in June 2017, this report provided further updates on new provincial requirements with respect to the Immunization of School Pupils Act and actions taken by OPH since June with respect to our multi-phased immunization strategy.

Ottawa Public Health Submission in Response to Public Consultation – Legalization of Cannabis in Ontario

The Board approved this report without discussion. It called for the Board to receive and adopt as its own, MOH submission to the Province of Ontario in response to the online consultation survey regarding Ontario’s approach to cannabis legal. It also requested that the Board authorize myself as the Chair for BOH to work with the MOH on a further submission to the Province on the legalization of cannabis in Ontario.

In addition to the above, the Board received the following reports for information:

You can watch the BOH meeting in its entirety on YouTube.