Protect yourself from West Nile virus

As the summer winds up, it’s easy to start thinking about back-to-school and the autumn season, but did you know that late summer and early autumn are also the times when West Nile virus (WNV) is often spread and when the symptoms of mosquito-borne diseases often start to appear? Working together, we can work to reduce WNV in our communities while making smart, healthy choices.

Since the virus is spread by mosquitoes, until the first hard frost in the fall, the most important step to preventing WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. Taking a few simple actions can make all the difference in protecting your family’s health:

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin;
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn;
  3. Cover up – wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs; and
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that doesn’t flow.

To help control the mosquito population and reduce the risk of WNV, the Halton Region Health Department treats areas of standing water, such as catch basins, with a larvicide. This larvicide prevents the mosquito larvae from maturing into adult mosquitoes. When walking around your neighbourhood, you may have noticed some dots of spray paint on catch basins – these indicate how many rounds of larvicide have been applied to each catch basin.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout the region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes trapped are examined and sent for WNV testing. If the Health Department finds West Nile virus positive mosquitoes in the region, we inform the community to remind you how to help prevent the spread of the virus across Halton.

To learn more about how to protect yourself against WNV, visit halton.ca/wnv. Working together to prevent WNV, we can make safe and healthy choice and keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire all year long.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Helping parents and children make the transition back to school

Regional resources and supports to help you get ready for school

It’s that time of the year again for the kids to go back to school. Are you ready for school routines, packing lunches and making sure your kids children know how to get to school safely? As you enjoy the final days of summer vacation, I want to share with you a number of Regional resources that can help make your families’ transition back to school—safe and healthy.

Getting school-ready

Do you have a major change happening in your family? Is your little one starting kindergarten or maybe you have an older child starting high school? Halton Region offers two online resources filled with valuable tips and information to help you support your child as they start school. Ready, Set, Go!, for preschoolers starting kindergarten and Ready, Set, Whoa!, for teens, can help you navigate and support your child’s journey through the next stage of their life.

Keeping your immunizations up-to-date

Immunization is one way to protect our community from the threat of preventable diseases that can easily be spread in schools. If you haven’t already done so, please ensure your family’s immunizations are up-to-date and that your children have all of the legally-required immunizations to attend school. All updated immunizations must be submitted to the Health Department.

Halton has recently been making it easier for parents to report and request immunization records. You can now report immunizations either online, in person or by dialing 311. If you’re unsure what immunizations the Health Department has on file, we recently launched an online immunization records request form to give you a more convenient way to request a copy of the immunization records we have on file.

Safely getting to school

Teaching children to cross the road safely when walking or biking is an important first step towards independence. As parents, we start by holding their hand as they cross the road and reminding them to always look all ways before crossing. When our children begin to head to school with friends—it is still important to keep talking about safety. If your child will be going to school on their own, you may want to practice walking to school together so they feel comfortable with the route. Our website (halton.ca) also includes information on pedestrian and bicycle safety that can help reinforce important safety messages with your children.

Support for parents

Getting organized and managing the demands of “back-to-school” routines can feel overwhelming at times for parents and children. Remember you can call or connect online with HaltonParents where public health nurses will provide support, information and other resources to cope with those everyday issues. Connect with us online at halton.ca/haltonparents, on Twitter @HaltonParents and Facebook, by email at haltonparents@halton.ca, or dial 311 to speak directly with a public health nurse. I would like to wish all Halton parents, students, teachers and school staff a wonderful, safe, healthy and productive school year.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Helping to connect job seekers and employers

Halton Region is committed to connecting residents with the services they need to be successful. In partnership with local employers and community organizations, Halton continues to respond to the changing demographics and diversity of Halton’s residents by connecting job seekers with a variety of free programs, services and resources to help them gain meaningful employment.

Employment Halton provides support to both job seekers, as well as employers. Through complimentary services and resources, Employment Halton offers free consultations, networking opportunities and educational sessions to ensure Halton’s economy thrives now and in the future.

Job Seekers

Employment Halton offers a number of services to help job seekers search for a new job or train for a new career. Residents who are looking for work can contact Employment Halton to gain access to some excellent services and resources, including:

  • job fairs, where attendees have the opportunity to network and meet hiring managers;
  • access to local job postings where job seekers can connect with employers from across the region;
  • practicum placement positions, where college and university students have the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a hands-on learning environment;
  • programs designed to enhance the skills of youth who experience multiple barriers to employment;
  • assistance with resume and interview preparation; and
  • a variety of on-site employment resources, reference tools and training.

Employers

With a growing population, easy access to markets and commitment to high-quality infrastructure, Halton is a great place to work and do business. We offer a high quality of life, low taxes and access to a highly educated workforce.

To help local businesses hire qualified candidates, Employment Halton offers a number of services to assist in finding suitable job candidates. Employers who are looking for new employees can contact Employment Halton to gain access to excellent hiring support, including:

  • recruitment and hiring services;
  • screening and matching services to select the best qualified candidates;
  • reference checks and education verification;
  • training incentive programs to off-set hourly wages and training costs;
  • access to Job Fairs; and
  • a free online job board where employers can connect with job seekers from across the region.

To learn about current opportunities, visit haltonjobs.ca, dial 311 or visit Employment Halton in person Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at 2441 Lakeshore Road West, Unit 16, Oakville (Bronte Village Mall).

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Getting ready for back to school by updating immunization records

As a parent, keeping your children safe and healthy is your number one priority. With the beginning of school less than a month away, it’s important to start planning now to ensure your children are up-to-date with their immunizations and that you’ve reported any updates to the Health Department. Immunization can ensure our children and community are protected from the threat of preventable diseases and Halton Region is doing its part to help families stay safe and healthy.

While the majority of families in Halton immunize their children to protect their health, many are unaware of the legal requirement to notify the Halton Region Health Department about any required immunizations or exemptions their children have, especially those the province requires for school attendance.

ImmunizationRecordsIn order to enforce the provincial Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA), the Health Department needs your help. Please take a moment this summer to ensure that your family’s immunizations are up-to-date and report any immunizations to the Region. If your child is unable to get immunized, you must have a notarized exemption on file with the Health Department in order to meet school attendance requirements.

Since immunization reporting is so important to not only the health of our children, but also needed to attend school, Halton has recently been making it easier for parents to report and request immunization records. You can now report immunizations either online, in person or by dialing 311. If you’re unsure what immunizations the Health Department has on file, we recently launched an online immunization records request form to give you a more convenient way to request a copy of the immunization records we have on file.

As we continue to enforce ISPA, the Halton Health Department periodically sends out letters to students in certain age groups who have outdated immunization records. In May, we sent out letters to families with students born in 1999 and 2000. If you received one of these letters, you can sign up for one of Halton’s special summer clinics to help your family catch up with mandatory immunizations.

Working together, we can protect ourselves, our children and our community from vaccine preventable diseases. Thank you for helping us keep Halton a great and healthy place to live, work, go to school, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Stay safe in Halton this summer

As you relax and explore beautiful Halton this summer, remember to be safe on the roads, at the beach and in your own backyard. Halton Region is committed to protecting the safety, health and well-being of all our residents and together as a community we can keep Halton safe. Below are some safety tips and information to keep in mind this weekend and summer long:

Road safety

For many of us, the summer means road trips to our favourite destinations, and particularly during long weekends, the roads will be busier than ever. The Halton Regional Police Service and other police services will be out on the roads targeting high-risk driving behaviors including:

If you notice someone driving aggressively, you can report them through the Road Watch program. Please report intoxicated drivers by dialling 911. To learn more, visit halton.ca/roadsafety.

Beach safety

The beach is a great place to enjoy time with family and friends and in Halton we are fortunate to have several recreational beaches located throughout the region. During the summer months, Halton’s beach water is tested weekly by our Health Department to ensure the water quality is safe for swimming and water activities. Before you head out for the day, find out if the beach you are going to is safe for swimming by dialling 311 or visiting halton.ca/beach.

Always ensure that you stay within sight and reach of your child when they are in or near water. Young children and weak swimmers should wear lifejackets when they are in, or around the water. All passengers should always wear lifejackets when riding in a boat.

Air and heat safety

By signing up to receive environmental alerts to your inbox, you can help protect yourself and your family from the health impacts associated with heat and poor air quality. Sign up to receive alerts at halton.ca/airquality.

When summer is in full swing, it is important to drink plenty of water, take frequent activity breaks and use sun protection. Also remember to visit family members, friends and neighbours to make sure they are staying cool and hydrated, particularly those over the age of 65 who are at a higher-risk for heat-related illnesses. To learn more, visit halton.ca/heat.

Food safety

As you enjoy your backyard barbeque, remember also to handle food safely. To ensure your food is safe for your family and friends, follow these four food safety tips: clean, separate, cook and chill. Also learn how to properly wash and store fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers’ markets. To learn more, visit halton.ca/foodsafety.

This summer, make safe choices and practise safe behaviours to ensure that Halton is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. As always, Halton Regional essential services are available over the weekend and if you should require assistance, please visit halton.ca/311 or dial 311.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Practise water conservation this summer

In Halton, we work very hard to protect our valuable water resources to ensure all residents have access to safe, high-quality tap water. The Region has a variety of programs and services in place to help protect and conserve our water and to ensure that water is safe when it reaches your home, school or business.

This summer has been extremely hot with very little rainfall. In order to ensure there is always sufficient water supply for essential use and emergency services, residents are asked to make water conservation a part of their daily lives. Using water wisely is especially important during extended periods of hot and dry weather.

We ask residents to use water efficiently by:

  • not overwatering your lawn or garden;
  • practicing lawn watering in accordance with the odd/even rule (i.e., odd numbered addresses water on odd numbered days and even numbered addresses water on even numbered days)
  • sweeping your driveway instead of using the hose;
  • using a pool cover to reduce water evaporation;
  • ensuring any irrigation systems are operating efficiently;
  • adjusting sprinklers, so only your lawn is watered – not the house, sidewalk, or street; and
  • ensuring only to water plants when necessary.

Even though residents make every effort to conserve during these warm summer months, the demand for water can increase by 50 per cent. If we experience an extended period of hot, dry weather, the Region may enact outdoor water use restrictions.

Halton’s Outdoor Water Use program consists of a numeric colour-coded system, which indicates the extent of any restrictions on outdoor water use. The Outdoor Water use program considers different factors such as water demand, water storage levels, stream flow and groundwater levels and weather patterns. Currently, we are in a Level 1 – Blue water conservation category which encourages residents to participate in the voluntary odd/even water program.

To learn more about Halton’s water, tips on how to conserve, or to check the current water restriction level, please visit halton.ca/water or dial 311.

Halton Region is committed to working together with our residents and community partners to protect our natural resources to ensure we can meet our needs today and in the future. This summer, re-think your water use by using it wisely and efficiently.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Halton’s transportation network remains safe, efficient and well maintained

Halton Region is growing at an impressive rate. By 2031, the Region is forecasted to have a population of 780,000 people. With that comes the need for infrastructure and a transportation network that can operate efficiently, safely and be consistently maintained to keep people and goods moving.

The 2015 Halton Region Transportation Progress Report, recently received by Council, highlighted successes related to planning, road safety, maintenance and reduced congestion. To ensure we continue to meet the needs of growth and continue to deliver an effective road network, Regional Council is continuing its commitment to infrastructure by investing nearly $1.4 billion over the next 10 years into the road network and on average, approximately $120 million annually.

The report indicated that Halton Region’s roads are operating more safely and efficiently year-over-year thanks to programs such as the Comprehensive Road Safety Action Plan (CROSAP), the Drive SAFE (Safety Awareness For Everyone) and intersection speed reviews.

Much of our investment is also allocated to construction projects to enhance travel throughout the region and maintenance projects to ensure roads are kept in a state of good repair that extend the life our road network.

In 2015, the Smart Commute program, which encourages sustainable travel options such as carpooling, public transit, cycling and walking, exceeded the targeted number of participating businesses in Halton. Last year, the program included 26 Halton businesses with more than 20,000 employees.

Finally, supporting and promoting active transportation is another key priority, as part of the Region’s commitment to building healthy and complete communities. We continue to work toward an integrated transportation network that supports other modes of travel, such as walking, cycling and transit. Last year, Regional Council approved the Active Transportation Master Plan and in 2015 alone, 28 kilometers of active transportation infrastructure was constructed on Regional roads. Since 2011, the number of on-road cycling lanes has increased nearly 75 per cent.

Halton’s transportation system is operating well and is part of what makes Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. To learn more about the progress report and transportation initiatives in Halton, visit halton.ca/transportation.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.