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Home News Board of Health governance up for discussion as province considers slashing their number in the province

Board of Health governance up for discussion as province considers slashing their number in the province

John Paul Danko opposed to having non-elected voting members of Board of Health

The issue of the makeup Hamilton Board of Health is being sent back to staff for recommendations The issue arose in the last term of council. Councillors Nann and Wilson recommended that instead of the present practice of having all members of council form the Board of Health, that a new board be composed of six councillors and six citizens who would be drawn from the medical community and equity-seeking community groups. Medical experts and community advocates appeared before council in 2021 saying the current structure of the board risks overlooking systemic barriers that can affect the health of racialized patients, people with disabilities or those in vulnerable circumstances such as homelessness.

The issue showed a deeply divided council Wednesday when it considered a motion by Councillor Kroetsch to set up a new Board of Health with citizen representatives having full voting rights and one from Councillor John Paul Danko to explore an “advisory” or “semi-autonomous” model. In the end the Danko motion won out and Dr. Elizabeth Richardson and her staff will have another extensive report to develop to add to another assignment handed to them earlier in the meeting to explore options for the city’s vaccine policy for employees

Overshadowing the issue was a letter received from Ontario Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore advising that the model with citizen members having voting, rather than advisory powers would require legislative changes at Queen’s Park, adding what could be interpreted as his preference, “alternatively, or in addition, the Board of Health could consider establishing ad-hoc/advisory committees which may include citizen representation to address specific issues of interest or otherwise provide advice to the Board. This local option would not require legislative amendments. “

Danko’s motion which passed by only a two-vote margin, called for staff to report back with options for the Board of Health’s governance which will include as an option a dedicated Board of Health Advisory Committee while continuing to work on an option for a semi-autonomous board of health. Adding to the uncertainty of the exercise was word out of Queen’s Park that the Ford Government is considering reducing the number of Public Health Units in Ontario from 34 to 10 to 14,

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