2015 Snapshot of Public Health: Manitoulin Island Area

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Public Health: Putting the Community First

Reflecting on the past year of providing Public Health services, I am reminded of the many wonderful opportunities with which we are presented to help make meaningful contributions in the communities we serve.

To some, Public Health is a protector, helping to control the spread of infectious disease and monitoring the water to keep it safe for drinking and swimming. For others, Public Health is a promoter, supporting families to be the best they can be, providing education to help keep older adults from falling, and making it easier for everyone to eat well and be active wherever they live, learn, work, or play. To many, Public Health is a champion, providing information to people and bringing people together to build communities where everyone has the same opportunities for health.
Public Health may not always be visible, but it is always present to help prevent illness, promote health, and protect us all. Public Health pays big health dividends. The work of Public Health results in healthier, more productive individuals and communities—communities that can then invest in the things that really matter to health including jobs, education, housing, infrastructure, and more. The Sudbury & District Health Unit is proud to work in collaboration with so many dedicated individuals and groups in our communities so that together, we improve opportunities for health for all!

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe – Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer

Our vision:

Healthier communities for all.

Our mission:

Working with our communities to promote and protect health and to prevent disease for everyone.

Strategic Priorities

  1. Champion and lead equitable opportunities for health.
  2. Strengthen relationships.
  3. Strengthen evidence-informed public health practice.
  4. Support community actions promoting health equity.
  5. Foster organization-wide excellence in leadership and innovation.


In the 2015 Snapshot of Public Health for Manitoulin Island, readers will find a brief overview of the Ontario public health system, including the local public health agency, the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU). The 2015 Snapshot report includes highlights of public health activities on Manitoulin Island during the 2015 calendar year.

This snapshot of public health activities shines a light on the SDHU’s public health work that is done in collaboration with the public, community agencies, and municipalities. It is hoped that its contents are helpful in sharing the local public health story and in informing people about how their public health dollars are being spent to promote and protect the health of everyone.

The SDHU is proud to work with and for the people who live, play, and work in the 3,107 square kilometres that makes up Manitoulin Island, including seven First Nation reserves. Home to approximately 13,000 people, the Manitoulin Island area comprises approximately 7% of the SDHU land area and 7% of its total population. Residents of Manitoulin Island speak predominately English, with approximately 83% of the population identifying English as their Mother Tongue and approximately 9% reporting an Indigenous language as their Mother Tongue. Manitoulin Island experienced a 3.3% increase in its population between 2006 and 2011, demonstrating that it continues to be a very vibrant place to call home (2011 Demographic Profile: Manitoulin, SDHU).

A map of the various district office locations in the Sudbury and District Office area

Public Health in Ontario

Public health works “upstream” to promote and protect health and prevent people from becoming sick. If we can imagine the health system as a continuum, the treatment services of hospitals would be at one end and public health would be at the other, working to keep people from needing hospitals and other health care services in the first place.

An illustration depicting the Sudbury & District Health Unit's Upstream philosophy. At the top end of a river small stick figures are falling in, to be retrieved by other figures along the banks of the river. At the end of a river sits an ambulance ready to take figures still in the river to the hospital.

Like with fire, police, and education services, public health is a “public good”–publicly funded and always there for us. Public health works behind the scenes to promote healthy places (e.g. helping municipal councils make bylaws for healthier food options in recreational centres) and front and centre to protect our health (e.g. issuing boil water advisories when drinking water is unsafe).

In Ontario, there is a provincial network of 36 non-profit public health units, all responsible for delivering standard public health programs and services, and for upholding public health law. About 80% of a local public health unit’s budget is cost-shared between the municipalities and the province, with the provincial government contributing up to three quarters of that funding. The remaining 20% of a local public health unit’s budget is 100% provincially funded. The law specifies that municipal funding to public health is allocated on a per capita basis.

The 36 public health units, together with provincial ministries and agencies, and in partnership with primary care and laboratories, comprise the formal provincial public health system.

Your Local Public Health Unit—Our Structure

The SDHU is governed by an autonomous Board of Health. Sudbury & District Board of Health membership is determined by legislation and includes municipally elected representatives and citizen representatives from across the SDHU area. Manitoulin Island is represented by one individual who has historically been a local mayor, reeve or councillor.

The SDHU works hard to meet the needs of the diverse population we serve and to meet our legislative requirements. To do this, the SDHU is organized into five divisions each reporting to the Medical Officer of Health.

The Sudbury and District Health Unit's organizational structure. At the top sits the Board of Health, on the next level is the Medical Officer of Health/CEO, branching off of that level is the Associate Medical Officer of Health. On the next level, below the Medical Officer of Health/CEO are the Sudbury and District Health Unit's 5 divisions: Health Promotion, Environmental Health, Clinical and Family Services, Resources. Research, Evaluation and Development. and Corporate Services.

2015 Sudbury & District Health Unit Board of Health Member:

Ken Noland

Appointed by:

Municipal Council of the Town of Gore Bay, The Municipal Councils of the Corporation of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, and The Corporations of the townships of Assiginack, Barrie Island, Billings, Burpee and Mills, Central Manitoulin, Cockburn Island, Gordon, and Tehkummah

Public Health Activities on Manitoulin Island in 2015

The SDHU actively supports well-being on Manitoulin Island by providing services to protect and to promote health. The following is a snapshot of these Manitoulin Island public health activities that occurred in 2015. Together, they paint a picture of the variety and volume of local public health work.

Health Protection

The SDHU delivers a number of services designed to protect the health of its communities. These services include, for example, immunizations, health hazard investigations, sexual health services, food safety, and safe water initiatives. The snapshots in the section below highlight the health protection services provided by the SDHU to Manitoulin Island communities in 2015.

Control of Infectious Diseases and Infection Control

Sexual Health Program

Dental Services

Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program

Smoke-Free Ontario Act Enforcement

Did you know?

The SDHU employs a number of public health professionals to carry out its mission and public health mandated programs. These include but are not limited to, public health physicians (Medical Officer and Associate Medical Officer of Health), public health nurses, public health inspectors, dental educators and hygienists, registered dietitians, epidemiologists, and planners. We also employ a number of technical and support staff who assist in the operational functions of the organization and the work we do in the various communities throughout Manitoulin Island.

Food Safety

Vector Borne Diseases, Rabies, and Lyme Disease

Health Hazards

Part 8 Land Control (On-Site Sewage System under Ontario Building Code)

Did you know?

In order to provide quality public health services within the Manitoulin Island area, the SDHU has aligned its highly skilled and trained staff with the communities’ unique needs. The SDHU has an office in Mindemoya from which four public health nurses, two public health inspectors, one dental hygienist, one family home visitor, and one office assistant support Health Unit programming for the residents of Manitoulin Island. Other services are provided to Manitoulin Island area residents where and when needed by SDHU main office staff and include for example, dental health services and support for emergency preparedness and response.

Environmental Policy

Safe Water

Drinking Water

Small Drinking Water Systems

Recreational Water

Did you know?

Environmental Health staff are available to participate in tabletop emergency preparedness exercises upon request and often comment on plans or proposals that may have a public health impact.

Health Promotion

Public health plays a key role in the promotion of health and prevention of chronic diseases and injuries. We do this through the delivery of a number of health promotion programs and services including healthy eating and healthy weights, falls prevention, substance misuse and tobacco use prevention, and child and reproductive health. This section includes Manitoulin Island statistical and narrative information about a broad range of health promotion programs provided in 2015 by the SDHU. Many of these programs are delivered in collaboration with many sectors and agencies within the community. These include, but are not limited to, individuals, families, community groups and seniors clubs, faith groups, organizations, health professionals, health centres, child care groups, businesses, social services, local municipal staff and council, school boards and their staff and administration, police, fire services, EMS, and provincial ministries.

Supporting smokers to become quitters – smoking cessation supports on Manitoulin Island

Smoking continues to be a challenge many residents on Manitoulin Island struggle to overcome, and the SDHU is committed to supporting partners and residents in their efforts to quit and live smoke-free lives. The reasons people smoke are varied, and providing tailored, individual support is important to help quit successfully. The SDHU once again partnered with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and hosted a STOP on the Road program, bringing smoking cessation treatment directly to smokers on Manitoulin Island. A 3-hour workshop kick-started this exciting program and participants were then provided with tips, aids, one-on-one telephone support and Nicotine Replacement Therapy for 5 weeks—customized to meet their unique needs. In addition to STOP, the SDHU continues to promote a smoke-free lifestyle through the promotion of a variety of provincial campaigns and refers individuals to existing smoking cessation programs in the community offered by other local health care providers.

We all have a role to play… coming together to prevent the harms of substance misuse

Substance misuse is a concern for the citizens of Manitoulin Island. Since this impacts everyone, reducing the harms associated with misuse requires a community coming together. The SDHU, in partnership with the Health Sciences North – Little Current site, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Manitoulin site, M’Chigeeng Health Centre, Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre, Manitoulin Health Centre, Manitoulin Family Resources, Manitoulin District Services Board, Manitoulin Central Family Health Team and Mnaamodzawin Health Services, began collaborating to develop an island-wide drug strategy for Manitoulin Island. As a first step to educate the community about the harms associated with substance misuse, public health nurses, as a member of the Manitoulin Injury Prevention Coalition, partnered with others to provide educational activities during Drug Awareness Week.

Promoting safety through education and initiatives

The SDHU is an active member of the Manitoulin Injury Prevention Coalition which seeks to promote safety and prevent injuries. Public health nurses were involved in a variety of road safety activities that were delivered in the Manitoulin Island area in 2015, including:

Working together to support healthy kids and habits

SDHU nutrition staff have had a long standing relationship with registered dietitians at the Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre (NTHC). At the request of the NTHC, registered dietitians from the SDHU delivered a training presentation to NTHC nutrition staff and other community nutrition professionals. The 16 attendees learned about the SDHU’s holistic and health-centred approach to healthy weights programming, including the importance of taking a flexible and realistic approach to healthy eating. This session provided the opportunity for meaningful conversations on how community programming could be enhanced with consistent messaging and approaches. With the prevalence of obesity increasing, the need to work collaboratively to address this very complex issue is imperative. This meeting demonstrated the positive relationships SDHU staff have with leaders on Manitoulin Island and our eagerness to partner and collaborate further to support children and their families in living healthy, vibrant lifestyles.

Building healthy eating habits through a universal vegetable and fruit program

The Northern Fruit & Vegetable Program (NFVP) is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and administered locally by staff from the SDHU. This program provides two servings of vegetables and fruit per week to elementary school children in the Manitoulin area. It helps increase their consumption of weekly vegetables and fruit as well as increases their awareness to the benefits of having a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. The most recent program evaluation indicated that 96% of students thought that being given two servings of vegetables and fruit each week helped them achieve their recommended weekly intake.

Beyond the school walls, SDHU staff ensured success through the provision of resources to educate children and their parents about healthy eating habits and assist school communities build healthy habits in children. In the Manitoulin area, two schools participated in the NFVP reaching 305 students during the 2014/15 school year.

Giving kids the best start… protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding on the Island

At the SDHU, we are committed to supporting parents in raising healthy, happy children. Breastfeeding is normal and one of the greatest gifts a mother can give to her newborn. The SDHU is seeking its Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) designation because we want to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Part of this involves encouraging community partners to also protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. In 2015, public health nurses continued to educate community partners on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and provided training to staff at the Little Current Hospital.

After the first six months, the introduction of nutritious and complementary foods is essential. In January 2015, registered dietitians with the SDHU delivered a training session to parents of the Gore Bay Child Care Centre. The Helping Children Eat Well – What You Can Do session provided a variety of nutrition and healthy eating information and resources.

A Sampling of 2015 Health Promotion Programming by the Numbers


The Sudbury & District Health Unit is part of a provincial system of public health that works “upstream” to promote health and prevent disease. Locally, the SDHU provides a broad range of programs and services in collaboration with local community partners and community members throughout the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts and Greater Sudbury.

This report is the second Snapshot of Public Health developed for all leaders and citizens in the Manitoulin Island area. It is intended to paint a picture of SDHU activities on Manitoulin Island during the 2015 calendar year, and highlight the impressive variety and volume of programming delivered to meet local needs.

The Sudbury & District Health Unit is grateful and honoured to work with and for the people who live, play, and work in the Manitoulin Island area, including the many individuals and agencies that take a leadership role in bettering their communities. SDHU staff are passionate about their work and keen to work with partners and the community to protect, promote, and champion health on Manitoulin Island and beyond. Together, we can create opportunities for health for all.

Did you know?

Public health staff can be reached at any time from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday through the Manitoulin and main offices for routine business, and are available 24/7 for after-hours emergencies at 705.688.4366.

This item was last modified on April 22, 2024