Public Health board hears updates on COVID-19 and some concerns

·2 min read

Last week, the electronically-assembled Grey-Bruce board of the health had the pleasure of hearing the local Medical Officer of Health predict that the pandemic as a health emergency could end this summer.

“We need to be ready for the recovery phase,” Dr. Ian Arra said, referring to the health unit.

The transition of staff after such massive shuffling of people, positions and priorities will have to be carefully managed, he said.

As well, he cautioned that there is still complexity in the COVID situation as well, with the unknowns of the disease and variants.

He shared figures showing that in Grey-Bruce, almost 90 percent of people over 80 have at least one vaccination, 85 percent of people 70 to 79 have at least one dose and three-quarters of those 60 to 64.

More than half of all those who are over 40 have received one vaccine, with percentages building up in each age bracket. Overall, 60 percent of the Eligible Population (12+) have at least one dose as of May 31.

QUESTION 2020 PAY

A delegation at last Friday’s board of health meeting asked for an explanation of why the Medical Officer of Health was paid overtime, and in such quantities.

They also questioned the number of staff leaving the health unit under his tenure.

Dr. Ian Arra was the highest paid Medical Officer of Health in Ontario last year at about $630,000. Overtime payments made up nearly half of his pay.

There is no Associate MOH in Grey-Bruce Health Unit.

The province funded one-time extraordinary items such as overtime during 2020 , based on decisions by the local board of health.

The board said that it would respond to the delegation. As well, a letter had been issued by the health board chair before the meeting on some of the questions raised.

One of the presenters on Friday was Cathy Moore Coburn, a former Health Unit employee and a councillor for Georgian Bluffs. She is acting as a private citizen and not representing her council.

Ms Moore Coburn asked that the board monitor, track and approve 2021 overtime, and that both the financial side and the organizational side of the health unit get an independent review.

“Folks, you are the custodians of our tax dollars,” she said, saying the public relied on the board for oversight.

The back-and-forth in letters, online petition, social media and news websites has gone on for several months.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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