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to enforce ISPA, the Halton Health Department periodically sends out letters to students in certain age groups who have outdated immunization records.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”.

Helping keep Halton healthy in 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-462255685At the beginning of each year, many of us make resolutions to lead healthier, more active lives. As part of Halton Region’s commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of residents, we can help you and your family make healthy choices and improve your quality of life.

Knowing the actions you take today can enhance your health tomorrow, choosing an active lifestyle can improve your health with every step. Whether you are at work or school, at home or travelling, there are always opportunities to remain active. Halton offers residents of all ages and stages a variety of physical activity resources to help you get active in 2016!

To make it easier for residents to make active choices, we’re also putting the infrastructure in place to help residents incorporate active transportation into their daily lives. Halton Region’s new Active Transportation Master Plan will support walkable communities and promote human-powered travel through an active transportation network of sidewalks, on-road bike lanes and off-road, multi-use trails. Once implemented in partnership with our Local Municipalities, the Active Transportation Master Plan will offer Halton residents many potential environmental, health and economic benefits including increased levels of physical activity, lower levels of obesity and other chronic diseases, as well as improved air quality.

At Halton Region, we know that there is more to your health than just staying active. We want to ensure all residents have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Our nutrition programs and services and food safety initiatives connect residents with healthy resources and supports for the entire family. The Where to Get Help in Halton guide also helps connect residents in need to community services such as food banks and emergency food programs.

The start of a new year is a good time to reduce alcohol consumption to support a healthy lifestyle.  Making a commitment to low-risk or moderate drinking can be an important first step towards better health. For resources and support to help you reduce alcohol consumption, visit halton.ca/alcohol.

Mental health is another key part of your overall health and we’re dedicated to ensuring residents receive the resources and services they need to support good mental health for the community. So whether you have a child in need, are stressed at work or looking for ways to improve a relationship, Halton is here to help.

For more information on how to stay healthy this year, please visit halton.ca/health. By working together to create a healthier Halton, we can keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Protecting Halton from West Nile virus

To help keep West Nile virus (WNV) out of our communities, Halton Region has begun its West Nile virus prevention program. Whether by monitoring and reducing the amount of mosquitoes in Halton or helping our residents make smart choices to prevent West Nile virus, together we can help keep Halton safe and healthy this summer.

Since West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, Halton Region is diligent in monitoring and preventing mosquito larvae from hatching to help keep WNV out of Halton. As a result of the relatively dry spring, the Halton Region Health Department has found higher numbers of mosquito larvae in catch basins and other places with standing water. To help control the mosquito population and reduce the threat of West Nile virus, the Health Department has started treating areas of standing water with a larvicide to prevent the mosquito larva from maturing into hungry adult mosquitoes.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout Halton Region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes are examined and sent for WNV testing.

While Halton works behind the scenes to reduce the chance of WNV in Halton, you can also help protect yourself and continue to enjoy the warm weather this summer.

The most important step to preventing West Nile virus it to prevent mosquito bites and a few simple actions can make all the difference.

  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.
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that does not flow.

If you notice any areas of standing water on public property that can’t be drained or removed, please report it to the Health Department and they can determine if larviciding is necessary.

Working together, we can enjoy a safe and healthy summer and keep Halton a great place to live, work, 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.”

Happy Holidays from Halton Region!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a joyous Holiday Season!

On behalf of Regional Council and staff, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and a wonderful holiday season!

December is one of my favourite months. It’s the time of year to get together with family and friends, celebrate the season, give back to our community and be thankful for all we have.

If you are staying in town, there is so much to do around Halton. Take the opportunity to discover Halton and experience the things that make it such a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Over the holidays, all essential services and Halton Region facilities will remain available, including water and wastewater services, waste collection, road operations, public health, paramedic services and social and community services. Some public facilities will be closed during the holidays. For more information about holiday hours at our public facilities, visit halton.ca/closures. If you require assistance with a Regional service during the holidays dial 311, visit halton.ca, or submit a service request at halton.ca/311.

May this season bring peace, prosperity and joy to you and your loved ones. From my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 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 or on Facebook.

West Nile virus: Prevention is the key

Summer is finally here! As we enjoy the warm weather at one of Halton’s beaches, at the Bruce Trail, on vacation or in our backyards across Halton – it is important to take action to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and West Nile virus (WNV).

To help control the mosquito population and reduce the threat of West Nile virus, Halton Region treats areas of standing water with a larvacide to prevent the mosquito larva from maturing into hungry adult mosquitoes.

This is an important step in protecting Halton residents; however the most important steps we can take to prevent mosquito bites are simple and up to us.

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET.
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn.
  3. Cover up: wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that does not flow.

Did you know that the type of mosquito that carries WNV is found much more frequently in urban areas than rural or forested areas?  

If you notice any areas of standing water on public property that can’t be drained or removed, please report it to the Health Department and an assessment can be conducted to determine if larvaciding is necessary.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout Halton Region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes are examined and sent for WNV testing.

Visit our West Nile Virus surveillance webpage to see the locations of larvaciding as well as other tracking data.

For more information on WNV or to report standing water, dial 311 or call Halton Region at 1-866-442-5866, or email accesshalton@halton.ca.

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 or on Facebook.

A Heartfelt Thank You to “Dr. Bob” After 25 Years of Service to Halton Residents

This week, Halton Region will be saying goodbye to Dr. Bob Nosal, the Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health since 1991. After 25 years of service to Halton residents, Dr. Nosal is retiring.

Along with members of Regional Council, I recently had the opportunity to express my admiration and appreciation of Dr. Nosal for his many years of dedicated public service. The list of accomplishments he’s garnered throughout his distinguished career is long.

Since Dr. Nosal became Halton Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health he has:

  • led the Health Department through West Nile Virus in 2002, SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009;
  • been a leader in the areas of health promotion, public health surveillance, air quality and environmental protection;
  • managed the development of a top performing Paramedic Service and community-based mental health clinic;
  • led the Health Department with a vision of being community minded, understanding that the best possible health for Halton residents is most effectively achieved through collaboration; and
  • served on a number of regional and provincial committees addressing a wide array of public health issues and advocated to address mental health, substance misuse, and child and youth development in Halton, among many other issues.

In short, he has helped to make Halton Region’s Health Department a provincial leader in programming and service delivery, providing the top level of care for Halton residents.

I have known Dr. Nosal since the early 1990s when I was an MPP and have always been impressed with his professionalism and his dedication. I know many members of staff at Halton Region and Regional Council will miss his sound knowledge and judgment that has always served the residents of Halton well.

On behalf of Halton Region, thank you “Dr. Bob” for your commitment and dedication to the people of Halton! You deserve the very best in retirement. You have been a true leader and a big contributor to making Halton a great place to live, work, 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.”

Family Day Activities

Family Day is a great opportunity to get outside, spend time together and enjoy the many opportunities we have in Halton to be active. The cold weather and mountains of snow we have this year can make it even more fun to go skiing, skating, or enjoy the scenery at one of our many parks or conservations areas. All you need is to make a few preparations first to ensure you’re ready for the day:

Winter Tips

  • Be sure to check the forecast and dress for the weather.
  • Wear layers of clothing and cover as much skin as possible.
  • Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen on sunny days.

Many of our healthy living community partners like Conservation Halton and Bronte Creek Provincial Park have Family Day Activities planned. Also, check out your local recreation department in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville for activities. Finally, have a look at our Family Fun in Halton brochure for ideas of ways to stay active during any season.

Enjoy our beautiful region and your Family Day!

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 @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”