Update from Dr. Brent Moloughney of Ottawa Public Health
As of December 4th, Ottawa maintains our “Orange-Restrict” status under the Provincial Framework. With your help, Ottawa residents have heard Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) messaging and have evidently made efforts to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in our community. The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 remains stable, and Ottawa businesses, organizations, and facilities remain consistent in following public health guidance.
It’s clear we know what we need to do to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Forging on with the protective behaviours we are using can keep decreasing the level of the virus and will help us avoid hospitalizations and deaths and closures of businesses, with the negative consequences that can bring.
Please see below for additional updates regarding OPH and the COVID-19 response. Thank you for your continued support and work on behalf of the residents of Ottawa.
As we move into the next phase of the COVID-19 response, it is important that we continue to be gentle with one another as we transition and adapt in response to new challenges. OPH has launched a Be Kind campaign. The campaign focuses on how we are all connected and promotes how the small individual actions we take can impact others and help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This campaign will include messaging on supporting each other beyond COVID-19, including taking care of both our mental and physical health needs, and treating each other with civility, respect and kindness. Please see an example of some of OPH’s COVIDKind messaging on social media this week: COVIDKind on OPH Twitter.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women will be recognized on December 6th 2020. On this day, OPH is remembering all those who have experienced gender-based violence, including those who have lost their lives in the tragedy of the École Polytechnique attack. This day is still a difficult time for many. OPH will be sharing messaging on social media reminding everyone that it is completely ok to feel affected and that asking for support is a sign of courage, not weakness. By learning from our past, listening to survivors & speaking up, we can work together to take action. Additional supports and information on how to help end violence against women can be found here: Violence Prevention
In light of the need for timely and accurate health information during the ever-changing situation relating to the pandemic, OPH would like to remind residents to be wary of the potential for disinformation (false information deliberately and often covertly spread) and misinformation (incorrect or misleading information that is spread regardless of the intent to mislead). Disinformation and misinformation can be a danger to population health. In the context of COVID-19, false information about cures, treatments, and fake preventative measures can cause serious illness. Misinformation and disinformation can cause long term damage to our health system. The spread of false health information can erode public trust in the health organizations that are striving to limit and control the COVID-19 pandemic. There are credible sources to find the best health information online. OPH encourages residents to refer to reliable and updated health information by verified and trusted health organizations such as local public health units, Public Health Ontario, Health Canada and the World Health Organization, to think critically about what they are seeing and be discerning about the information they share. Misinformation on OPH Twitter
OPH is entering the fourth week of our influenza vaccination campaign and demand this year has far surpassed previous years. During the 2019-2020 OPH influenza vaccination campaign, 11,321 residents were vaccinated against the flu during the fall and winter months. In comparison, since launching in October 2020, OPH has already vaccinated over 48,000 residents to date through our OPH-run community clinics.
Ottawa Community Action Plan Virtual Summit
The Ottawa Community Action Plan Virtual Summit took place on November 20th and was hosted jointly by Ottawa Public Health (OPH), The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA), the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA). The Summit brought together over 150 individuals representing a cross-section of national and community organizations, agencies and individuals from healthcare, municipal government (including law enforcement and first responders), individuals with lived and living experience, and various other community organizations.
Since the previous Summit, in February of 2019, many strides have been made to advance the Ottawa Community Action Plan, to make tangible improvements in mental health and reduce the harms from substance use, with a focus on opioids, across the lifespan. These achievements have included improving coordinated access and creating innovative ways of delivering services while also focusing on subgroups of the population that have been underserved. The successes in Ottawa are being shared on a national level through the partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction so that other jurisdictions can learn and implement similar programs and processes.
While there has been much success, improving mental health and reducing harms from substance use continue to be top priorities in Ottawa. Current challenges, as cited by keynote speakers during the Virtual Summit, include: lack of services; lack of knowledge on where to access services; opportunity for greater collaboration between sectors; and a number of at-risk groups, such as the Black and Indigenous communities, continuing to be underserved. Challenges also remain in terms of ensuring that people with lived experience are at the forefront of the conversation and are engaged as an integral part of the solution. Understanding these challenges, there was a consensus that collaboration was an important focus and something that provided hope to participants.
A full report is being prepared and will be shared with elected officials in the new year. OPH is committed to this work and furthering these partnerships to ensure that these groups’ needs are considered in the Ottawa Community Action Plan and addressed overall. For more information on the supports available to the community, please visit the following resources: OPH’s Mental Health and Substance Use Services and Resources, Stop Ottawa Overdose; and Counselling Connect.
Board of Health Meeting summary
On Monday evening, the Board of Health held its last meeting of the year, via Zoom. As part of her verbal report, Dr. Etches provided updates on this fall’s influenza immunization campaign and preparations for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, the reopening of some of our dental clinics, OPH’s focus on mental health supports, and a recent report on COVID-19 and Racial Identity in Ottawa. The Board also considered and approved the Draft 2021 Operating Budget for the Ottawa Board of Health.
Official plan update
Part of Monday’s Board of Health meeting focused on the City’s draft Official Plan (OP), with Stephen Willis and Emily Davies presenting to the Board on how the draft OP incorporates principles of healthy and inclusive communities. In particular, their presentation focused on the unique collaboration with OPH through the co-location of two (2) OPH staff with the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Department (PIED). Through this collaboration, OPH has contributed to policies throughout the OP, including in areas such as mobility, urban design, housing, schools, food, air quality, sustainability, and urban heat islands. OPH also advanced an equity and inclusion lens, and the 15-minute neighbourhood as a fundamental organizing principle for how the city grows. Extensive discussions about the health perspective and advancing other 5 Big Moves goals for many OP polices proved to be a powerful way to develop collaborative solutions that advanced the goals of both PIED and OPH.
This partnership is ground-breaking in Canada and will help ensure the integration of health perspectives into land use and transportation planning, allowing for the influencing of upstream interventions on the environments and conditions that shape our health and well-being, and our daily decisions.