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.”

Holiday Closure – 311 services available

On behalf of Regional Council and staff, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and aholiday closure safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Halton Region’s administrative offices are closed for the holidays as of December 23 at 4:30 p.m. and will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

All essential services will remain available during this time. Essential services include:

If you need help with a Regional service during the holidays, please dial 311. Dialing 311 also gives you access to other Halton Government Services including Local Municipal Services, Halton School Boards, and non-emergency Police services in more than 170 languages. Did you know that 311 services are also available online at 311halton.ca. Through 311 online you can pay a parking ticket, find a Regional or municipal service, sign up for cold alerts, apply for a job, report a collision or missed waste collection and more. 

From my family to yours, I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and holiday. All the best for a healthy 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, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Preparing for the Flu Season

The kids are well into school routines, the pumpkins are ready, the Maple Leafs are off to another great start (7-3 as of this posting) and also like clock-work but much less fun…the flu season is coming.

In the same fashion as the Leafs have been hard at work preparing to improve on last year’s dramatic play-off exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Halton Region has been busy preparing for another round of influenza (flu) immunization clinics.

People of all ages can get the flu. It’s important to keep in mind that by protecting yourself from the virus, you are also protecting other people in your life who may be at risk of severe illness from the flu.

Halton’s Health Department reports the best way to protect against getting and spreading the flu is to get the annual influenza immunization (flu shot). There are many options which make it easier for you to get your flu shot.

Click here for a link to Ontario’s Flu Clinic Locator, which will give you the locations of all flu immunization clinics including pharmacies.

Halton Region is offering 28 flu immunization clinics throughout the Region. Physicians’ offices, walk-in clinics, many pharmacies and some workplaces offer the vaccine too. Be sure to call the walk-in clinic or pharmacy before you go.

Personal protective measures are also an effective way to prevent catching or spreading the flu and many other common illnesses. These include:

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water for a minimum of 15 seconds
  • Using an alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Staying home when you’re sick
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs, telephones, computers or remote controls

Here’s hoping to a healthy flu season and a successful Leafs’ season.

For more information on the flu, please dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/flu.

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.”

Celebration of Life

Last week I had the honour of attending Halton Region’s Celebration of Life awards ceremony.

The Celebration of Life is an event to profile the important life-saving work by Halton’s Paramedic Services, bystanders, and community partners. The event also gave survivorsHalton Paramedic Celebration of Life of medical emergencies a chance to formally meet and thank the paramedics who saved them.

The Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board were presented with community partner awards for their commitment to the health and safety of their students and staff when they installed defibrillators in all their schools. Along with the installation, they trained hundreds of staff and students how to use the defibrillators and how to do CPR.

Bystanders were also honoured for their bravery. Thrust into a crisis situation they acted with selflessness and courage and were commended for their actions.

DSC_4361In Halton Region, we have an exceptional team of paramedics who make a career out of caring for the health and safety of our community.

Halton Regional Council is committed to providing the necessary tools for not only a paramedic service that succeeds, but one that excels.

In the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan, there are a number of high profile actions dedicated to paramedic services such as ensuring appropriate response times, opening a northwest Oakville station and continuing to work with the Central Ambulance Communications Centre to optimize the delivery of paramedical services.

Optimization of the delivery of paramedical services is key because as our population grows, so too does the demand for paramedic service.

For Regional Council, that means striking the right balance between meeting community safety needs and managing tax dollars effectively, something we have been able to do with expanding services while not increasing property taxes on Regional programs and services for the past seven years, one of the best records in Canada.

This is evident in the fact that last year Halton Region’s Paramedic Services responded to over 50,000 calls while still meeting our response time targets.

Halton’s paramedics, community partners and bystanders are part of what make Halton Region 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.”

Environmental Public Health Inspectors

From drinking water safety to recreational water safety, to inspecting restaurants, daycares, long term care homes, spas, salons and swimming pools, environmental public health inspectors are an important part of ensuring the health of Halton residents.

We know providing these services are important to Halton residents, as noted in Halton’s Citizens’ Priority Action Plan. For health inspectors, there are two key priorities for 2013 that relate directly to Protecting Public Health:

  • Ensure Food Safety: Ensure that a food safety inspection rate of 100% is achieved in 2013 for high risk premises
  • Ensure Infection Prevention and Control: Ensure that an inspection rate of 100% is achieved in 2013 for high risk personal service settings

I am happy to report that both of those very important priorities are on schedule to be completed by year end. Check out our other accomplishments on the Regional Accomplishments page.

Inspectors are involved in many other aspects of protecting public health, an overall goal of Halton residents:

  • Food premise inspections (restaurant, catering companies, food trucks, convenience stores, grocery stores)
  • Fairs and festivals (food vendors)
  • Long term care homes (kitchens)
  • Hospitals (kitchens)
  • Retirement homes (kitchens)
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Spas
  • Piercing establishments
  • Public pools
  • Daycares
  • Petting zoos
  • Beaches
  • Smoke-Free Ontario
  • West Nile Virus
  • Well water
  • Site contamination
  • Bed bugs
  • Lime disease
  • Small drinking water systems
  • Rabies 

Halton Region, Public health inspectors and all of regional staff are dedicated to providing effective and quality service to ensure Halton is 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.”

Silence Hurts: break the silence around suicide and mental illness

Halton Region is a member of the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition and with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, the coalition members are working hard again this year to reduce the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. Their key message is “silence hurts” because the biggest barrier to getting help for those having suicidal thoughts or suffering from a loss is opening up and talking to someone. The Coalition wants everyone to know that help is available in Halton and we all can play a role in suicide prevention.

To raise awareness, the HSPC is offering a free community event at Holy Trinity Secondary School, 2420 Sixth Line, Oakville, on September 10, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. The session will focus on:

•             the signs of someone considering suicide

•             how to respond

•             how to seek help as an individual or as someone dealing with a loss

•             the local supports

The evening will also include a presentation about Developmental Assets®, which are the proven positive experiences all children need to reach their potential. A similar event will also be held at Georgetown District High School on October 8. The Georgetown evening will also include a youth break-out session.

The HSPC is an important collaborative of individuals and organizations who provide leadership, advocacy and education to support everyone in our community. They include the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Halton Branch, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO), the Phoenix Program, ADAPT (Halton Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Assessment, Prevention and Treatment Services), Support and Housing Halton, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the hospital sector and individuals affected by suicide.

I hope you will consider attending one of the upcoming events, volunteering for the coalition or coming to their November 8 annual general meeting. For more information, visit www.suicidepreventionhalton.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 on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”