The Grey-Bruce Board of Health met over an hour later than usual on Friday, March 3, due to an emergency meeting on the opioid emergency attended by some of the board members.
Board chair Alan Barfoot said he hoped direction given during that meeting would help resolve the crisis in both the short term and long term.
Dr. Ian Arra – medical officer of health, Dr. Rim Zayed – physician consultant, and board member Nick Saunders – non-voting board member representing Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation – gave a brief synopsis of the two-hour meeting held prior to the board of health meeting. Present for the opioid emergency meeting were local MPs and MPPs.
Barfoot commented, “There’s a huge concern out there,” in requesting information about the meeting.
Zayed said the reason for the meeting was the emergency situation in Saugeen First Nation, primarily on funding and grants, explaining that the situation is exacerbated by the “complexity of service in a vulnerable population.” She also spoke of stigma and discrimination.
Zayed said there’s more data, and it’s being used in a different way than before, but “we don’t have a sustainable system.”
She noted there’s a great interest at the provincial level in helping.
Arra added that the first step, of establishing a connection, has been accomplished.
Saunders said he thought “it was a very productive meeting,” but there’s some follow-up that needs to be done.
“We’ve all spoken,” he said. “Now it’s time to start putting things into action… meaningful and actionable goals.”
He stressed the need to hear from everyone involved, saying the people going through the crisis need a voice, too, and must not be excluded.
“It’s not about photo ops,” he said.
If the people see “the political parties there, and people from the health unit and strong leadership that are supporting them to be able to help them through this crisis and fight the battle they’re going through, I think it will go a long way.”
Much of the March 3 board meeting was devoted to information on the opioid crisis, and regular business of the board of health. However, COVID-19 hasn’t been forgotten.
In his update to the board, Arra reported “the activity of COVID-19 is very low,” with an average of five new cases per day, and one outbreak in long-term care.
Brian Milne asked if the “recommendation for vulnerable populations” is still to get a booster shot every six months. Arra’s response was that “staying up to date on immunizations” is the general recommendation.
Kenneth Craig commented on a child in the Far East infected with avian flu, and asked if “this might be another infectious disease we’re facing.”
Arra answered that there’s always monitoring for new infectious diseases, and noted the World Health Organization has a “robust ability” to alert in case a novel disease becomes a threat to the human population. Arra reminded board members that the first letter he received from WHO regarding COVID-19 was in December 2019. Arra notified the board in January 2020 that “we needed to dust off our pandemic plans.” He was pleased to say that Grey-Bruce “delivered on preparations” when the emergency was announced.
By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 10, 2023 at 07:35