Give feedback and get informed about City projects: Week of October 29

The City of Ottawa wants your input on the projects, policies, programs and services that affect your daily life. From open houses to workshops and online consultations, your feedback helps to shape City decisions.

The following online opportunities are available:

Public input on retail cannabis:  Residents are invited to provide input on the future of retail cannabis stores in Ottawa. Residents have from Thursday, October 25 until Wednesday, November 7 to complete the survey. Paper copies are also available at City’s Client Service Centres. The results from the surveys will help inform City Council in its consideration of whether to allow cannabis retail stores to operate in Ottawa. More information on cannabis legalization can be found at and

The following opportunities to learn more about City projects are available:

Ottawa Public Health and its partners are hosting information nights for parents to learn more about cannabis, the new legislation, how to talk to your youth as well as available resources and services.


Tuesday, October 30

Cannabis Parent Information Nights

Collège catholique Samuel-Genest

704 Carsons Road
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Session will be held in French

Thursday, November 1

Cannabis Parent Information Nights

St. Peter Catholic High School

750 Charlemagne Boulevard

7 pm to 9 pm

Session will be held in English


The City offers residents a variety of opportunities to share information, consult and collaborate. Stay informed on upcoming engagement opportunities to see your ideas, suggestions and concerns incorporated in the work that affects you and your community.



First mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus


Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reminding residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites when going outdoors. Mosquito trapping and testing—components of OPH’s West Nile virus (WNV) program—have confirmed the presence of WNV in Ottawa mosquitoes again this year. In addition to protecting themselves against mosquito bites, all Ottawa residents need to help reduce mosquito populations around their homes by getting rid of all outdoor objects that can hold water in which mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

WNV is an infection spread in Ottawa primarily by the northern house mosquito that, in a small number of cases, can cause serious illness. Most people will not develop any symptoms if infected with WNV, but about 20 per cent may experience flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, and, possibly, a rash. The risk for more serious illness—occurring in less than 1 per cent of infections in which WNV invades the central nervous system—increases with age, with older adults and the elderly as well as people with weakened immune systems being at higher risk.

There have been no reported confirmed or probable human cases of WNV in Ottawa in 2018. In Ontario, as of July 21 there have been two reported human cases this year. In 2017, there were 20 confirmed or probable human cases reported in Ottawa, and 147 confirmed or probable human cases in Ontario.

OPH urges residents to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites by:

  • Applying a Health Canada-approved mosquito repellent containing DEET or icaridin to exposed skin and clothing
  • Protecting yourself especially between dusk and dawn, periods when mosquitoes are most active, and at any time in or near shady, bushy, or wooded areas
  • Wearing light-coloured, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to protect exposed skin.
  • Making sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that are in good condition
  • Reducing standing water sites around your home (bird baths, toys, flower pot saucers, swimming pool covers, old tires, wheelbarrows, buckets, cans, etc. ­– anything that can hold water for 7 days or longer)
  • Ensuring all openings to rain barrels are covered with screen mesh at all times

OPH has a proactive plan to deal with WNV that includes weekly surveillance and, when necessary, mosquito larvicidal treatment of natural and man-made standing water sites located on City property, such as ditches and storm water management ponds. As part of this plan, OPH also has regular applications of larvicide in City-owned roadside storm sewer catch-basins to reduce the mosquito population.

For additional information on West Nile Virus, visit or call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).

Infection Prevention and Control Lapse at a Stittsville Medical Clinic


An infection prevention and control lapse investigation by Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has identified that patients who had some minor surgical procedures at the Main Street Family Medical Centre, located at 1251 Stittsville Main Street, may have been exposed to improperly cleaned medical equipment.


OPH, in collaboration with Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, determined that an estimated 4,600 patients who underwent some minor surgical procedures at this clinic between December 2003 and April 25, 2018 may have been exposed to improperly cleaned reusable medical equipment.


The investigation began on April 24, 2018 following a complaint. On April 25, 2018, OPH directed the clinic to stop performing all minor surgical procedures until further notice. There is no ongoing risk to patients being treated at the clinic. At this time, OPH is not aware of any cases of infection associated with this infection prevention and control lapse.

Procedures of concern are:

      • Removal of a skin tag, mole, or cyst using a blade or scissors
      • Skin biopsy
      • Incision, drainage, or packing of an abscess or cyst
      • Removal of an ingrown nail
      • Sutures or staples, or their removal
      • Foreign body removal


Procedures that are not a cause for concern include:

      • Injections (e.g., vaccines, vitamin B12, anti-inflammatories, steroids)
      • Blood drawing
      • Removal of a wart or skin lesion using liquid nitrogen (freezing) spray or swab
      • Pap test, endometrial (uterus layer) biopsy
      • Swabs (e.g., throat swabs, nose swabs, testing for sexually transmitted infections)


The protection of the public’s health is our top priority. As soon as Ottawa Public Health identified the infection prevention and control lapse at the Main Street Family Medical Centre, they acted immediately to ensure no ongoing risk to the public. OPH worked closely with Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to identify who was at risk from this infection prevention and control lapse and to notify those patients as soon as possible.


OPH investigates clinics on a complaint basis and does not routinely inspect medical clinics’ infection prevention and control practices. Medical doctors are a self-regulated profession and are responsible for upholding infection prevention and control standards in their own practice. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ­(CPSO), which regulates physician practice in Ontario, was notified of OPH’s investigation.


On Tuesday, July 17th, the Main Street Family Medical Centre mailed letters to the estimated 4,600 affected clinic patients, which represents 5 percent of the estimated 90,000 patients seen at the clinic since 2003. Although the risk is low, as a precaution, OPH recommends that patients who received a minor surgical procedure of concern at the clinic between December 2003 and April 25, 2018 undergo testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus, abbreviated as HIV.



For more information about the OPH investigation or information about hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, please visit, call the Ottawa Public Health Information Centre at 613-580-6744 or email Patients can also contact the Main Street Family Medical Centre at 613-831-7372.

Information on Ticks and Lyme Disease – Tick Kits Now Available at My Ward Office (Limited Supply; 1 Per Family)

Insects are a sign of spring but there is one insect in particular this year to keep an eye on – ticks and the threat they have to carry and spread Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. In Ontario, Lyme disease is spread by the bite of a black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick. Most humans are infected through the bite of an immature tick called a nymph, which is very small and are most active in the spring. Adult ticks are larger and active during the late summer and fall.
Since Ottawa is now considered an at-risk area for Lyme disease, it is important to contact your doctor if you believe a tick has been attached to you for 24 or more hours, or if you are unsure how long the tick has been attached to you, so that your doctor can determine if you need treatment with antibiotics. Tick keys are a great tool for removing ticks and are available for sale at local retailers. Treatment with antibiotics would be considered when:

  • the tick has been attached for 24 or more hours or is fully or partially engorged and
  • it has been less than or equal to 72 hours since the tick has been removed.


If the tick was attached for less than 24 hours and its body does not appear swollen from feeding or if you removed a tick and more than 72 hours have passed, you should still be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for the next 30 days. If you do develop symptoms, consult your health care provider.


Once again, Ottawa Public Health has put together Lyme disease “kits”, which are available for pickup free of charge (while supplies last; quantities are limited; one tick kit per household) at my ward office in the Goulbourn Recreation Complex for your information, use and distribution. Each “kit” includes a Lyme disease factsheet, which offers details related to the symptoms of Lyme Disease, tick removal processes, testing protocols and ways to prevent tick bites. The kits also include a tick key, which is designed to help remove any tick that may have attached themselves to a person, a family member, friend or pet.

I encourage all residents to be prepared for what to do in case you find a tick attached to you or your pets.


The government of Canada has also prepared a useful video to help protect yourself and your family from ticks carrying lyme disease which is available below:


For more information on ticks and removal of an imbedded tick please visit\LymeDisease.

Board of Health Update This Week


On Monday, the Ottawa Board of Health held its second meeting of 2018.


The Board discussed its report on Reducing Harms from Gambling, which provides data on the issue of problem gambling in Ottawa and outlines a four-point plan, and related funding request, to reduce the harms from gambling in our community.


In approving the report, the Board also reiterated the position taken in 2013 against increasing access to and availability of gambling in Ottawa and recognized that the funding request outlined in the report may not be enough in the long run to fully enable OPH and partners to effectively deal with this issue.


The Board also discussed the Acting Medical Officer of Health’s Submissions to Proposed Provincial Regulations Under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 and the Cannabis Act, 2017.


In approving this report, the Board received and approved the recommendations contained in two (2) submissions made to the Province in March in response to public consultations on regulations under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA) and Cannabis Act, 2017.


Specifically, the submission on the SFOA talked about establishing restrictions on places of use and restrictions or requirements for tobacco and vapour products with respect to places of sale, flavoured products, sale/supply to minors, signage, display and promotion, packaging and health warnings. For its part, the submission on the Cannabis Act addressed establishing specific restrictions and exemptions for where non-medical cannabis and other forms of medical cannabis may be used.


The Board approved the following items on consent:


The meeting as a whole is available on Youtube and interested residents are encouraged to view it at the link listed below:

Secure Your Meds

I would like to take a moment to remind residents about Ottawa Public Health (OPH)’s “Secure Your Meds” campaign to raise awareness about prescription opioid misuse by people who use prescription drugs non-medically.

This campaign is a collaboration with the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force, the Health Products Stewardship Association and Drug Free Kids Canada.

As part of the launch, OPH has launched, a web tool useful for providing information for all parents to reduce the risk of kids taking and using their prescription drugs.

13% of Ottawa high school students used prescription drugs non-medically and two-thirds of students got the drug from a parent, sibling or someone else they live with.

Prescription opioids are misused more than most illegal drugs in Ottawa, and were involved in about 45% of drug overdose deaths between 2009 and 2011. Fentanyl, for the first time in 2014, was the leading cause of death due to unintentional opioid overdose death in Ottawa.

If you need to have prescription drugs at home, lock them up and check regularly for missing medication. Watch for missing medication and return unused medications to your pharmacy or at a pharmacy participating in the Ontario Medication Return Program.


For more information including a searchable map of where to drop off unused or expired medications, please visit


Try your hand at this quiz. Can you tell the difference between pills and candy? I bet your toddler can’t either!prescription

Ottawa Public Health All Staff Meeting 2018


I had the privilege of speaking at the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) Annual All Staff meeting on January 16th in my role a Chair of the Board of Health.  The theme this year was Welcoming our Future, Together.


The annual meetings provide an opportunity to network with OPH employees, hear from the Senior Leadership Team, and learn more about key department and Service Area/Branch priorities for 2018.


Some of the points I spoke to were reflecting on 2017- recognizing areas where the organization has grown over the past year, highlighting some public health challenges we have faced, and looking ahead to 2018.

2017 was an extraordinary year for the City of Ottawa and presented unique operational challenges for Ottawa Public Health. As we celebrated Canada’s 150th Birthday, we welcomed many festivals, special events and visitors to the capital. For our team of Public Health Inspectors, this meant a higher number of premises to inspect, especially in the summer.

We also found that other environmental health challenges presented themselves in the summer months. More and more residents this year appeared with ticks for testing. For the first time, more than 20 % of the ticks tested positive for Lyme disease. This made Ottawa a higher risk area for Lyme disease and called for increased vigilance from residents while enjoying the outdoors.

How OPH has responded to many of these challenges accredited to the organization and its people. Inspections were conducted throughout the busy Canada 150 celebrations, protecting residents and Ottawa visitors from food-borne illness. Awareness was raised about Lyme disease

Our Medical Officer of Health spoke before a Senate Committee in support of legislation aimed at reducing barriers to calling for help after an opioid overdose. Naloxone is more widely available in this community than it ever has been. OPH school health nurses provided targeted education in schools and presentations for parents on the subject of substance use. Supervised injection services are now being offered to clients in need, by OPH and other community partners.

There are also many other ways OPH has grown over the year. In the first quarter of last year, we gathered to reflect on health equity and reconciliation with Indigenous people. Some staff went on to take Indigenous Cultural Safety Training and pursue other learning and development.

Finally, I reflected on the leave of Dr. Isra Levy who was the City’s Medical Officer of Health for 10 years and welcomed Dr. Vera Etches as our Interim Medical Officer of Health. I have the utmost confidence that Vera will provide excellent leadership and support in the year ahead.

In 2018, the Board of Health will continue to develop a strategic focus on creating an adaptive workforce, inspiring and supporting healthy eating and active living, fostering mental health, advancing healthy public policy, and preventing infectious disease. As I have read in Board of Health progress reports, a great deal of meaningful work has happened as we shifted more focus towards these areas.

I have faith in the staff at OPH to continue their strong momentum to build, support and educate residents in building a strong and healthy environment for their communities and the City as a whole.

A Warm Welcome to Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s New Acting Medical Officer of Health

Preceding budget discussions at this week’s Board of Health Meeting, I was thrilled and honoured to officially introduce Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public Health’s newest Acting Medical Officer of Health.


Dr. Etches will be taking over for Dr. Isra Levy, the outgoing MOH who announced last month his resignation from the role to embrace a new role as Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation of the Canadian Blood Services (CBS).


Dr. Levy leaves OPH in a position of great strength. Since his arrival, OPH has seen the establishment of the Ottawa Board of Health, been granted Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada, and consistently improved programs and services to meet the needs of the community.


OPH staff and myself bid our farewells to Dr. Levy on Thursday, December 14th at a celebration of his achievements.


Dr. Etches is the former Deputy MOH and has served with Ottawa Public Health for the last 8 years.

Prior to joining OPH in 2009, Dr. Etches worked at the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) after completing her specialty training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine in 2005. At the SDHU, she served as an Associate Medical Officer of Health and the Director of Clinical Services and acted as the MOH for a one year period.

As a Deputy MOH for OPH, Dr. Etches supports the organization to deliver quality, client-centred services and contributes to knowledge transfer, population health assessment, surveillance, program evaluation and applied public health research.

Dr. Etches is responsible for the management of teams that provide clinical services to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne illnesses as well as clinical services to prevent and treat dental health problems. Other teams she supervises provide reproductive health counseling, promote breast feeding and carry out home visits to new parents to support positive parenting skills. Public health inspection, environmental health and programming related to the control of communicable diseases and infection prevention and control are also part of her responsibility.

On behalf of OPH, I would like to wish Dr. Etches a warm welcome to the position and the absolute best as she begins to make the role her own. Congratulations, Dr. Etches, and best of luck for the future, Dr. Levy!

A Fond Farewell to the Outgoing OPH Medical Officer of Health

On Monday November 6th, my close friend and colleague, Dr. Isra Levy, announced his resignation as the Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) effective January 8, 2018 as he ventures into a new challenge as Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation of the Canadian Blood Services (CBS).


In this role he will assume leadership and oversight of the CBS’s medical, scientific and epidemiological programs in blood and organ donation and transplantation, and its renowned Centre for Innovation.


Dr. Levy has provided 10-years of strong leadership and dedication to the health and welfare of Ottawa’s Public Health. He leaves OPH in a position of great strength as since his arrival, OPH has seen the establishment of the Ottawa Board of Health, been granted Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada, and consistently improved programs and services to meet the needs of the community.

During his tenure he has had a positive impact on not only the residents of the City as a whole but the individual members of the professional team at OPH and those sitting at the Board of Health (BOH) table. As Chair of the Board of Health (BOH), I have had the privilege and opportunity to learn and work alongside Dr. Levy for over three and a half years.

It is certainly sad to see such an intelligent, positive, and outstanding member of the Ottawa Public Health team depart but on behalf of the BOH and my office, I wish Dr. Levy health, happiness and success in his new endeavor with CBS.

Have You Gotten your Flu Vaccine??


Have you received your flu shot?


Remember that getting your vaccination yearly helps to not only protect you from contracting influenza but those around you who may be more susceptible.


During the 2016-2017 flu season, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) administered 7,400 influenza vaccines at community clinics, and distributed over 253,000 doses of the vaccine across the City to physicians’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. Pharmacies also received over 118, 300 doses of the vaccine.


For the 2017-2018 flu season, OPH will again focus on providing access to the flu vaccine to the general population through physicians’ offices and pharmacy providers, as well as targeted outreach to vulnerable populations.


210 Ottawa pharmacies will be offering the influenza vaccine; up from 184 pharmacies last year.


A list of participating pharmacies can be found here. Many pharmacies are open long hours, and are located throughout the city, making the publicly funded influenza vaccine more accessible. In addition, more than 300 physicians’ offices across the city will be offering the flu vaccine to their patients.


OPH will also be offering 12 community clinics in different areas of the city from October 28, 2017 to November 20, 2017. The locations of these clinics address gaps where pharmacy vaccination is not readily available.


Residents can find the OPH community Clinic location that is most convenient to them by consulting the list here.


I highly encourage all residents to take the time out of their busy lives to protect their health and the health of others this flu season. Remember that nobody likes a vaccination but even less people want to get sick!


For more information on Ottawa Public Health and its programming, please visit