December 2021 Board of Health Meeting - Minutes

Meeting Document Type

Board Members Present:

Gary McNamara, Joe Bachetti, Tracey Bailey, Rino Bortolin, Fabio Costante, Gary Kaschak, Judy Lund, Ed Sleiman, Larry Snively

Board Member Regrets:

Robert Maich

Administration Present:

Nicole Dupuis, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Lorie Gregg, Felicia Lawal, Kristy McBeth, Eric Nadalin, Dan Sibley, Lee Anne Damphouse

QUORUM:  Confirmed

The Board moved into Committee of the Whole at 4:02 pm
The Board moved out of Committee of the Whole at 4:14 pm

  1. Call to Order
    Board Chair, Gary McNamara, called the meeting to order at 4:14 p.m.
  2. Agenda Approval

    Moved by: Rino Bortolin
    Seconded by: Judy Lund
    That the agenda be approved.

  3. Announcement of Conflicts of Interest – None
  4. Update (Dr. S. Nesathurai)
    1. COVID-19 Update

      Dr. S. Nesathurai said that it is clear that disease activity of COVID-19 has increased in our community.  There have been 45 deaths from COVID-19 in our region since August of this year, two-thirds among individual who were unvaccinated and one-third of those that were vaccinated living with serious medical conditions.  Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has immediate consequences on our health care system, and is affecting access to timely medical treatment for other health issues. 

      The strategy to manage the spread of COVID-19 starts with containment of the virus, and the second part of the strategy is vaccination.  The Ministry of Health has asked us to shift our resources from containment to vaccination efforts.  With this request comes a trade off, meaning a decrease in resources in Case and Contact Management, and those who benefit most from containment are the unvaccinated.  With approximately 300,000 individuals eligible for vaccination in Windsor-Essex, the magnitude of this request is staggering.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals in our region will need to be vaccinated in short order.  Our region is equipped with a mass vaccination centre, participating pharmacies, some primary care providers and mobile clinics.  Vaccinating 300,000 people, at 6,000 people per day, would still take 50 days to complete.  The WECHU has exhausted every avenue to increase vaccine availability, and has reached out to family physicians, the Dean of the local Medical School for student resources, and anyone who can help with immunizations to get as many people vaccinated as possible.  

      G. McNamara asked how to address the public in the rationale that organized team sport activities are acceptable, but gatherings or informal sport activities are not.  N. Dupuis advised that we provide FAQ’s and include these interpretations on our website, however this is the health unit’s interpretation. Each region may obtain their own legal interpretation of the ROA and its regulations that differ from other areas. Many of the definitions we work from are already part of the legislation such as what is defined as a social gathering versus what is defined as sport and recreation. Dr. S. Nesathurai acknowledged there are apparent inconsistencies and that Medical Officers of Health have asked the province to provide more uniform measures across health units.  

      E. Nadalin advised that the WECHU meets every 2 weeks with regional enforcement who have their own legal council that interprets the ROA.  There are gray areas and this would be up to the municipalities to interpret.  This group has been meeting for over a year and things have changed at different points during the pandemic.  One members of this group has been collating all legislation, our Letters of Instruction and Section 22 Orders into a document for the group.  Communication is paramount and ongoing, and we have sought provincial support from multi-ministry agencies. 

      L. Snively asked how the Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC) compares to the Delta VOC.   Dr. S. Nesathurai said that the knowledge of the Omicron VOC is still evolving.  Evidence shows that the vast majority of people with COVID-19 recover, and those that are vaccinated are likely to have mild to moderate infections, but there will be deaths from COVID among healthy individuals.  The unvaccinated have a higher probability of severe disease and are more likely to be hospitalized, placed on a ventilator or die from COVID-19. 

      The Omicron VOC is expected to infect more people than the Delta VOC, but we cannot conclude that Omicron will be more or less severe than previous VOCs.  We are seeing case counts rising significantly and our biggest concern is hospital saturation with more people in ICU, more people requiring ventilators and hospitals being unable to admit those that need medical care for other diseases and health issues.  The major risk of hospital staff being infected could cripple our hospitals ability to function and we need to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated.  Under the old paradigm we would have been in complete lockdown, but we now have the vaccine.  The immediate problem is how to get through these next few weeks to provide sufficient containment and not overwhelm the health care system.

      Approximately 800 cohorts have been dismissed from schools, about 16,000 students, and are missing part of their education to prevent transmission to a parent, grandparent or an unvaccinated person.  R. Bortolin said he has been hearing from parents whose children were potentially exposed.  Some were dismissed from school for 10 days, some for 14 days, and is there a reason why we have not looked at rapid testing in school.  Dr. S. Nesathurai said that testing at home versus testing at the lab has its disadvantages, and it is best to be tested by a professional.  With over 800 cohort dismissals and no school closures, that means school boards have put public health measures in place.  If we start to relax public health measures we take the chance of penetration into schools and potential closure.  The current guidance from the ministry is to isolate all high risk contacts for 10 days and obtain a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test at the Assessment Centre.

      Moved by:  Judy Lund
      Seconded by:  Larry Snively
      That the information be received.

  5. Approval of Minutes
    1. Regular Board Meeting:  November 16, 2021
      Moved by: Joe Bachetti
      Seconded by: Gary Kaschak
      That the minutes be approved.
  6. Business Arising
    1. Consumption and Treatment Services Update (N. Dupuis/E. Nadalin)

      N. Dupuis advised that the WECHU were scheduled to address Windsor City Council at its December 20, 2021 Council Meeting for the approval of the Consumption and Treatment Services Site at 628 Goyeau Street in Windsor, but have subsequently been rescheduled to appear before Council in January 2022.  We were originally scheduled to address City Council in November.  E. Nadalin is working on plans for the application, and we have also finalized various reports and materials to proactively address council and any potential questions they may have. 

      Moved by: Rino Bortolin
      Seconded: Judy Lund
      That the information be received.

  7. Consent Agenda

      1. Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (E. Nadalin)

        E. Nadalin noted that the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) is geared to providing standard dental care to low income seniors and has been operational since the fall of 2019.  The OSDCP has been a priority during the pandemic, one challenge being the massive interest and we have initiatives in place to address the wait times.  The Report is attached and received for information by the Board.

      2. Legacy for Children Parenting Program (F. Lawal)
        F. Lawal noted that this new program will target low income mothers, infants and young children and will be launching in February 2022. The Report is attached and received for information by the Board.

      3. COVID-19 Surveillance and Epidemiology (N. Dupuis)
        L. Gregg noted that this report was submitted to the Ministry earlier this week. The Report is attached and received for information by the Board.

      4. November Communications Recap
        The Report is attached and received for information by the Board.

        Moved by:  Judy Lund
        Seconded by:  Rino Bortolin
        That the above information be received.

  8. New Business
    1. Project Governance Committee – Terms of Reference (N. Dupuis/J. Lund)
      N. Dupuis noted that we have commenced meetings with the Project Governance Committee and resurrected the capital project for a potential new space for the WECHU.  The Terms of Reference have been updated and Judy Lund was voted in as a replacement for former Co-Chair, John Scott, whose term as a provincial member on our board expired in March 2021.

      Moved by:  Rino Bortolin
      Seconded by:  Judy Lund
      That the information be received.

    2. Board of Health Meeting Schedule for 2022
      The Board agreed to continue with scheduling Board of Health meetings on the third Thursday of each month for 2022.  Calendar invites to follow.
      Moved by:  Joe Bachetti
      Seconded by:  Judy Lund
      That Board of Health meetings for 2022 be scheduled on the 3rd Thursday of each month. 

  9. Correspondance
    1. Algoma Public Health – Letter to Hon. Christine Elliott – Request for Annualized IPAC Hub Funding and Increase in Provincial Based Funding for Local Public Health (for support) 

    2. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit – Letter to Hon. Christine Elliott and Dr. Sheldon Salaba (Ontario Association of Optometrists) – Lack of Vision Services for patients under OHIP

    3. Town of Essex – Letter to Dr. S. Nesathurai, Acting MOH, and Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit – Resolution in Opposition to the Letter of Instruction issued by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on December 5, 2021

      Moved by:    Judy Lund
      Seconded by:  Ed Sleiman
      That the Board support item 9.1, Algoma Public Health’s request for Annualized IPAC Hub Funding and an increase in Provincial Based Funding for Local Public Health

      Moved by:  Joe Bachetti
      Seconded by: Ed Sleiman
      That items 9.2, and 9.3 be received.

  10. Committee of the Whole (CLOSED SESSION, in accordance with Section 239 of the Municipal Act)
    The Board moved into Committee of the Whole at 4:02 pm
    The Board moved out of Committee of the Whole at 4:14 pm

  11. Next Meeting: At the Call of the Chair, or January 20, 2022 – Via Video 

  12. Adjournment

    Moved by: Rino Bortolin
    Seconded by: Judy Lund
    That the meeting be adjourned.

    The meeting adjourned at 5:25 pm.



APPROVED BY: WECHU Board of Health, January 20, 2022