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.

Keeping Halton healthy by ensuring access to local family physicians

For over a decade, the Halton Region Physician Recruitment program has actively marketed Halton to current and prospective physicians to help address both current and future physician needs. In 2013, the Physician Recruitment program enjoyed another successful year with an additional 22 family doctors establishing their practice in the Region. Since Halton’s Physician Recruitment Initiative began in 2003, more than 200 new family doctors have made Halton home to their practice. Attracting new physicians to establish medical practices in Halton is one of the key priority areas in the 2012-2014 Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan,

The Halton Region Physician Recruitment program works in collaboration with all four Local Municipalities, local hospitals, clinics and community representatives to recruit physicians to locate their practices in Halton. The program also assists hospitals with their specialist recruiting, such as psychiatrists, pediatricians, emergency room physicians and hospitalists. 

The Region’s Physician Recruitment Coordinator works directly with prospective and existing physicians to ensure a strong family medicine presence in the Halton Community. Since the program’s inception, the Physician Recruitment Program has implemented a number of initiatives including: 

  • Hosting community tours, special events and physician meetings for prospective family physicians
  • Developing marketing materials to support physicians including a Halton Doctors landing page on the Region’s website (www.haltondoctors.ca)
  • Providing ongoing status updates for residents regarding new family physicians in Halton accepting patients
  • Participating in annual trade shows and recruitment tours for physicians, both nationally and provincially
  • Hosting Halton’s Physician Appreciation week which takes place this April 28-May2, 2014
  • Assisting with the arrangement of medical student and medical resident community electives and rotations 

Halton’s Physician Recruitment program also continues to provide support to the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre in Burlington. The Family Health Centre is part of the 2009 Halton McMaster partnership which saw Halton Region and the City of Burlington provide ten-year funding to McMaster University to help establish a variety of programs in the Region. In June 2013, the first group of Halton McMaster Family Health Centre family medicine residents completed their training and from those five residents, three are now establishing practices in Halton. Currently there are eight first-year residents and six second-year residents based at the Family Health Centre site. 

To see a list of newly recruited doctors who are accepting patients across Halton, visit www.halton.ca/newphysicians. For more information on the Physician Recruitment program, visit www.haltondoctors.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, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

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.”

The Importance of Adequately Funded Cost Sharing Agreements and Action on Offload Delays

Provincial funding is not keeping pace with the growth happening in our community. This is an ongoing challenge for Halton Region and we continue to experience funding shortfalls in our cost shared programs with the Provincial Government in the areas of public health and Paramedic Services.

Funding Shortfalls for Public Health and Paramedic Services

In 2013 the Province funded only 61 per cent of the total cost of cost shared programs versus the expected 75 per cent.  For programs that are supposed to be 100 per cent funded by the Province, we are only receiving 70 per cent.  As a result, Halton taxpayers are now funding a Provincial shortfall of $6.9 million annually for public health programs.   For Paramedic Services the funding received is 44 per cent of the total costs versus the expected amount of 50 per cent of the total cost.  This amounts to an additional $1.8 million annually that Halton taxpayers must fund for the shortfall.  Combined with the funding shortfall for public health, the total is $8.7 million which is equivalent to a four per cent tax increase for Halton taxpayers.  Funding is not keeping pace with growth yet the Province continues to mandate service delivery targets for public health standards and response times for Paramedic Services.  We are advocating to the Provincial Government for a commitment to deliver long-term, sustainable funding at the expected (agreed-upon) levels of cost sharing for public health programs and Paramedic Services.

Hospital Offload Delays and Response Times Impacted by the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC)

Halton Region continues to raise the issue of hospital offload delays with the Provincial Government.  Local hospital capacity has not kept pace with growth  What this means to you as a resident, is that we have periods of time when limited ambulances are available for response in Halton due to the backlog of patient transfers at our hospitals.  This is of critical importance and must be addressed to meet the needs of our community.

The Central Ambulance Communications Centre manages and dispatches 911 calls to all Paramedic Services in Ontario.  This is a Provincial service that requires enhancements to its operations to ensure Halton Region is able to deliver responsive and timely paramedic services to our residents.  Our response times are impacted by the timeliness of call dispatches from the CACC and this in turn impacts our response times in the community.

Halton Region is advocating on your behalf to the Provincial Government for immediate action to address these issues. Learn more about our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign.

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.”

Planning for vibrant communities while making it easier to walk, bike and roll across Halton

Halton residents have one of the highest standards of living in Canada and a large part of that is because of Halton Region’s commitment to being well planned. Halton’s dedication to planning complete and vibrant communities helps make Halton a great place to live and to support that, the Region is creating a plan that will impact how people move around the Region to the year 2031.

By creating a 20-year vision for active transportation across Halton, the first RegionalATMP Active Transportation Master Plan will make it easier to walk, bike and roll across Halton. The plan will give us a strategy for infrastructure like bike lanes and multi-use paths, as well as initiatives and programs for active transportation to promote people-powered travel throughout the Region. 

The plan will help improve connections within and between the Local Municipalities and offer easier access to sustainable transportation choices. By looking at our existing infrastructure, identifying ways to improve it, looking at different opportunities and working with residents, we’ll be able to show what the best possible active transportation system will look like up the year 2031. 

Some of the Active Transportation Master Plan highlights include developing cycling and walking networks, active transportation tools (like a map or trip planner), as well as promoting cycling and pedestrian safety.

As a Regional Government, we want to design a network of safe, well-connected and convenient routes and to integrate these into the community. This will help us to provide facilities that will give people greater choice in how they travel throughout our Region and help encourage physical activity. 

Throughout the planning process, we’ve met with various stakeholder groups, our Local Municipal partners, residents and others to ensure we create a plan that works for all of us. Working together is critical and reflective of our commitment to being resident focused. 

ATMP_meetingsWe would like to hear from you because together, we can plan for a great Halton where it’s easier to walk, bike and roll across the Region. Please visit our website at www.halton.ca/activetransportation to fill out an online feedback form; email us at activetransportation@halton.ca; or dial 311 to share your feedback.

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.”

Chair’s Corner: Q3 Accomplishments

Fiscal Responsibility

AAA credit rating reaffirmed

On July 25, Standard and Poor’s affirmed its highest credit rating, AAA for Halton. This marks the 23rd consecutive year that Halton has maintained the highest rating of AAA.  Standard and Poor’s has also attached a stable outlook to this rating indicating its confidence that Halton will continue to demonstrate strong budgetary performance.

Budget directions meeting in July
On July 10, Regional Council set 2014 budget directions, supporting a tax increase at or below 1.5%. Regional staff are working to prepare the 2014 Budget and Business Plan, which will be discussed at the budget review committee on December 9 and will go to Regional Council on December 11 for final approval.

Attracting & Retaining Jobs

Successful Summer Company program

Eleven Halton students participated in Summer Company, a provincially funded program which helps students aged 15 to 29 start and grow their own businesses. Summer Company provides participants with up to $3,000 and hands-on coaching and mentoring to start and operate their own business. Halton Region’s Small Business Centre coordinates the program in Halton for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and delivers it with the help of volunteer business advisors from the community.

Promoting Tourism

Summer Wonderful Photo Contest

Halton Tourism held a summer wonderful photo contest celebrating summer which received approximately 50 entries.  A selection of entries was posted on Halton Tourism’s social media channels, Pinterest and Facebook, helping to promote the many beautiful attractions here in Halton Region.

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