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Media Release: Board of Health Update for May 2024

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/ May 1, 2024

Today, the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health held its regular meeting for May 2024.

School immunizations

Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health, provided an update on school immunization rates. Since January, the HPEPH Immunization Team has been working tirelessly on the Immunization of School Pupils (ISPA) process to ensure that the student population is up to date with their immunizations. The Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) requires students to provide proof of immunization, or a valid exemption, to public health. Vaccines prevent diseases, save lives and reduce health care costs.

At the beginning of the year, 4,900 students in the region had incomplete immunization records. After holding numerous immunization clinics and reaching out to families to update their students’ records, by April 17 just 131 students had not updated their immunizations/immunization record. Dr. Toumishey commended the Immunization Team and local health care providers for their work to vaccinate students.

Information about how to book an immunization appointment with Public Health is available on the website at or by calling 613-966-5500, ext. 221. Additional information about maintenance and review of student records under ISPA is available at

Community Drug Strategy

Victoria Law, Social Determinants of Health Nurse at HPEPH, provided an update on the Community Drug Strategy (CDS), which is collaborative inter-agency strategy being developed to address regional concerns related to unregulated substances. While HPEPH is facilitating the development of the CDS, this is a community-led strategy governed by a steering committee.

The steering committee, comprised of representatives from the local school boards, police, hospital, community health, addictions and mental health, among others, has been working to identify priority objectives and activities related to four foundational elements of the Canadian Drug and Substances Strategy – Prevention and Education, Substance Use Services and Supports, Evidence, and Substance Controls.

In response to the State of Emergency declared by the City of Belleville in February following an unprecedented number of drug poisonings, separate but supporting work has been undertaken by the Canadian Mental Health Association HPE and United Way HPE, with the support of Health Commons Solutions Lab (HCSL), a consulting group engaged by Ontario Health, and they are working to reinforce the need for wrap around services and supports in the region. They will identify needs in the community, and provide a case to the province for necessary funding to implement additional supports.

Once there is a better understanding of the outcome of work undertaken by HCSL, the steering committee will be able to build upon this work to address mid to long-term community solutions to the drug poisoning crisis. The strategy is intended to be implemented over the next three to five years.

The Real Cost of Eating Well

The Board approved a motion to send a revised letter to the province to advocate for action to combat food insecurity through policy solutions accessible at the provincial level, namely further increasing minimum wage to reflect the real cost of eating well, increasing social assistance rates, and increasing availability of and access to affordable housing. The letter also calls upon the province to support funding applications for community programs and initiatives that are working to address food insecurity.

The revised letter was prepared in response to a presentation received by the Board of Health in March on The Real Cost of Eating Well in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, 2023, which reinforced the prevalence of food insecurity in our region: Nearly one in four households in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties is food insecure. The revised letter includes information regarding local rates of minimum wage earners and ODSP recipients in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, demonstrating the potential impact of income-based solutions to address food insecurity in our region.

Farewell to longtime board member

Board Chair Jan O’Neill thanked Craig Ervine, a provincial appointee to the Board of Health, for his service for the past eight years. He has stepped down to pursue other interests.

The next Board of Health meeting is Wednesday, June 5, 2024


Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist.

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. HPEPH is situated and provides services on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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During and after a flood

If you have been affected by the recent flooding in Bancroft, visit Health Canada’s website for information on what to do during a flood and afterwards. Not affected? The same web page provides information on how to get prepared for the event of a flood.