Annual Report 2020
- Message from Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer
- Message from René Lapierre, Chair, Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts
- Health hazards, inspections, and investigations
- Community drug strategies
- Healthy families, growth, and development
- Recapping Public Health’s response to COVID-19 in 2020
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer for Public Health Sudbury & Districts
The year 2020 was like no other for Public Health Sudbury & Districts—in fact, for our entire health system and community. At the early onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health jumped into action to prepare for a thorough and comprehensive response for our communities. Extensive planning, immediate preparations, and emergency response exercises with Public Health staff and community partners signalled the start of what would be our agency’s largest public health response in its history. The pandemic forced Public Health to quickly pivot and dedicate significant resources to protect our communities. Our ability to adjust and respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 were (and continue to be) heavily reliant on well-established and respectful relationships from which we have benefited with community agencies, service providers, health professionals, and municipal counterparts.
Starting in January of 2020 and continuing for the remainder of the year, our focus and dedication turned to responding to COVID-19. This necessary yet abrupt shift in our public health priorities meant the reduction or suspension of many important public health services. We have worked diligently as an agency and a community to reduce the spread of the virus. However, we must also acknowledge that our pandemic response efforts significantly impacted our ability to deliver many programs and services upon which so many in our community rely. Even with those reductions, I am proud of the work we were able to continue throughout the year. The 2020 Annual Report highlights just some of the important work of Public Health that, in addition to our pandemic response, did continue. For example, this work includes efforts related to community drug strategies, family health programming, and food safety and health hazard inspections.
I am incredibly proud of the dedication, resiliency, and the professionalism of Public Health staff—each of whom I consider a hero in their own right—our community partners, and the skillful leadership of the Board of Health for their tireless efforts and unwavering commitment throughout the pandemic. Together, we continue to rise to the challenges presented by the pandemic and continue to promote and protect health and prevent disease in the communities we serve.
It is my pleasure to present Public Health Sudbury & Districts’ 2020 Annual Report: Rising to the Challenge.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe
Message from René Lapierre
Chair, Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Rising to the challenge is a great way to describe Public Health Sudbury & Districts’ level of community responsiveness in 2020. From early in the year, Public Health jumped into action to respond to COVID-19 with invaluable support from partner agencies and the community as a whole. Guided by Dr. Penny Sutcliffe’s leadership and drawing on the agency’s organizational values—humility, trust, and respect—Public Health continues to rise to the day-to-day challenges of COVID-19 and other public health priorities to meet the needs of the communities throughout the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.
While COVID-19 has taken its toll, it is in situations like these that our collective resilience is tested. These are also situations that can lead to growth and unity, and further confirm the importance of a strong, local public health system which cannot be understated. Whether directly or indirectly, 2020 has truly put that into perspective for each and every one of us.
The investments we make in our public health system are critical, and the benefits are far-reaching. Public Health offers crucial programs and services, responding proactively as well as reactively to community needs.
Through the steadfast dedication of Public Health staff and our community’s support and ongoing commitments, I am confident we can continue to work toward achieving the best possible health for all.
I am honoured to serve as Board Chair, and I am pleased to present the 2020 Annual Report: Rise to the Challenge.
Health hazards, inspections, and investigations
The pandemic significantly impacted many businesses, employers, and service providers, and required a shift to virtual workspaces for many. However, the importance of and need for Public Health to conduct routine inspections and investigations, in a COVID-19-safe manner, persisted. Public health inspectors inspected food premises, personal services settings, public pools, and beaches. Our critical work to ensure the water you drink is safe was never compromised, for example, issuing drinking water or boil water advisories, as needed. We also responded to threats of emerging diseases and enteric outbreaks, and investigated health hazards, as seen with our comprehensive response to a large local hepatitis A outbreak linked to a local grocery store. This response included investigating and identifying the hazard, informing the community of the risks and precautions, and rapidly mounting hepatitis A vaccinations clinics to help prevent further infections and spread of the illness.
Community drug strategies
COVID-19 is not the only crisis our community is facing. Our collaborations to develop community drug strategies have been at the forefront of efforts to create locally viable responses to the opioid crisis. Throughout 2020, we continued to work closely with our community partners in Espanola, Greater Sudbury, Manitoulin, and Sudbury East to work toward identifying effective community drug strategies for each respective community. We continued working toward our goal of building safer and healthier communities, free from harms related to substance use. To further draw attention to increasing opioid-related harms across our region, three drug warnings and two drug alerts were issued, and over 30 media interviews were conducted. The Those People are Us and We Are Jeff campaigns were promoted through television ads, social media posts, newspapers ads, and on billboards to help reduce the stigma of substance use and to foster empathy and compassion, and highlight how we all can be part of the solutions.
In 2020, the results from the Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study (NAFS) were released and indicated that Greater Sudbury would benefit from supervised consumption services (SCS). The findings were based on community, expert, and community partner input. Letters of support were received to proceed with the implementation of SCS and an Application Advisory Committee was created to work toward federal and provincial applications for funding and an exemption to operate a SCS.
Healthy families, growth, and development
With a need to adapt to the needs of the community and recognizing the importance of public health services focused on family health, and growth and development, Public Health continued to offer invaluable programs services. For example, prenatal classes shifted to an online platform to allow expectant parents, their partners, and other health professionals to access information about pregnancy, labour and delivery, and what to expect and adapting to life with a new baby. Our Health Information Line continued to respond to calls from clients with questions about breastfeeding, vaccinations, healthy growth and development, infant feeding and care, car seat information, and general health inquiries. Our breastfeeding clinic and Healthy Babies Healthy Children program also focused on offering virtual appointments and consultations, though continued to maintain meeting with clients face-to-face, where needed, while following strict COVID-19 protocols.
Recapping Public Health’s response to COVID-19 in 2020
Public Health Sudbury & Districts has been actively planning, coordinating, and responding to COVID-19 since the beginning of 2020, with even more focus since the first case was confirmed in our service area on March 10, 2020, and the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. The dedicated response to COVID-19 was ongoing throughout 2020, and the timeline below highlights a few key events and milestones.
- January 27: Public Health activates its Emergency Response Plan for novel coronavirus.
- March 9: Public Health hosts a Community Response Planning Session with almost 60 agencies from across Greater Sudbury, the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts, and area First Nations to prepare for local spread of COVID-19.
- March 10: The first confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.
- March 12: Publicly funded schools in Ontario were ordered closed by the Ontario Government.
- April 2: The first local death from COVID-19 is announced.
- April 11: COVID-19 testing is made available through local assessment centres to anyone with any symptoms.
- April 19: The first local COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care home occurs.
- May 26: Dr. Penny Sutcliffe praises efforts and encourages vigilance as the first wave of COVID-19 subsides.
- May 29: COVID-19 testing is now offered to asymptomatic individuals concerned about exposures.
- July 8: Public Health requires face coverings to be worn in all commercial establishments and on public transit.
- August 8: The Top 10 COVID Rules to Live By are promoted to encourage COVID-safe behaviours.
- September 2: Northern Ontario Medical Officers of Health and Directors of Education issue joint statements about COVID-safe schools and the Top 10 COVID-19 Basic Rules for Safe Schools.
- October 26: The first COVID-19 outbreak in a local school is reported.
- December 1: Public Health hosts the first of many COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce meetings to prepare for the arrival of the vaccine.
- December 4: The first COVID-19 outbreak in a daycare is reported.
- December 9: Health Canada authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.
- December 21: The Ontario Government announces a province-wide shutdown effective December 26, due to elevated risks.
- December 26: The Ontario Government announces the first confirmed case of COVID-19 variant in Ontario.
- 2020 operating budget: $27,564,725, of which:
- 13.36% is operating and occupancy ($3,683,445 actual expenses)
- 5.2% is public health programs that are 100% provincially funded ($1,433,416 actual expenses)
- 81.44% is public health programs that are jointly funded by the province and area municipalities ($22,447,864 actual expenses)
This item was last modified on September 21, 2023