This presentation was made to the Ottawa Board of Health / Ottawa Public Health meeting of December 20, 2022.
“It’s the new Board’s first meeting [after the October municipal election] so maybe this will light a bit of fire under them,” is how I described it to one of the trustees of the OCDSB, who in late November had a contentious meeting / vote on implementing mask mandates that ended in a tie, i.e. the mandate not being approved.
Here is the 6-minute video, followed by the full transcript annotated with information and links from the presentation slides.
[City councillor Catherine Kitts, board vice-chair and meeting moderator:]
“I believe Mr. Macdougall will be joining us via the phone, but we do have a presentation submitted, that was submitted in advance, that we will get up on the screen.”
0:13 = Slide 1: Outline
- Hospital / Healthcare Crisis
- Mask Mandates, + OCDSB
- Public Education resource
“Uh yeah, so thank you for the opportunity. So I do have the PowerPoint which makes it easy to reference what I’m saying.
The three points I want to talk about I think are all important.
So we’ll move to the first slide – uh second side, sorry – about the hospital crisis.”
0:31 = Slide 2: Hospital Crisis
- Child died while no ambulance available October 25th, described in this November 25 thread.
- Message from a staff member about the crisis levels at the Ottawa Hospital – General campus, late October. Originally posted on Ottawa sub-reddit.
- Photo from rally across from CHEO / General Hospital, December 9th
“And this is, these are just some things that I think… Personally I think there’s a low level of awareness of the seriousness of the situation, I’m not even sure how many board members would know about these three things.
I think one thing I think of, when I think of the one [image] on the far right, about what the staff are experiencing in hospitals, it’s just getting worse and worse, and the stress – I think of people going every day to work and it’s like that, the conditions are worsening as some people leave, there’s no respite, and I think a lot of staff think they aren’t being heard.
So there is starting a movement, you can see the picture of the protest. I think also just to wonder about, what can Public Health do with the, with the situation in terms of the hospitals being overwhelmed, the health care system being overwhelmed, and Covid getting worse, like the there’s a real risk that the people’s immune systems are becoming lessreliable because they’ve had infections. More and more people are developing Long Covid which is seriously disabling. So it’s kind of like a slow-moving crisis, it’s getting worse and we can see that it’s getting worse and hopefully we cando something about that.
The next slide please.”
1:52 = Slide 3: Mask Mandates
- Segments of four Ottawa Citizen articles: November 8th about community buy-in/ first step of increasing mask wearing, 9th about OPH supporting organizations implementing mask policies, 14th about Dr. Etches supporting organizations bringing in mask mandates, and 23rd about leaving mask mandates to the province.
**Note** I could also have included a November 10th CBC article where Dr. Etches stated, “The pressure is on the pediatric hospital system across the province so we are looking for that provincial [mask mandate] solution,” since that was a stronger statement than in the Citizen article of the 23rd.
“So this is after the last meeting where these are a few reports in the month afterwards, and I want to highlight there were two reports where Ottawa Public Health and Dr. Etches were saying that they would support local businesses and organizations that bring mask mandates, despite Ottawa Health not doing it themselves, and then also looking to delegate mask mandates to the province.
So then we go to the next slide and… sorry, just before we go on, if you see in the top right at the end of the segment it says “Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has been directed by that City’s Board of Health to urgently explore reinstating mask mandates.” So that was the day after the Ottawa Public Health meeting, the Toronto Board of Health said mask mandates are important whereas Ottawa Public Health took a different direction, the board members.
So this next slide…”
2:48 = Slide 4: OPH submission to OCDSB meeting November 22nd.
- “I am writing to provide public health data and context as you consider ways to increase mask wearing in schools. … The Science Table pointed out that schools are not isolated from communities and so implementation of temporary measures should not be done in isolation of the broader community measures for indoor spaces..” Dr. Etches.
“… is what Dr. Etches sent to the school board when they were considering doing a mask mandate, and this second sentence there, the Science Table recommendation, was what at least two of the trustees pointed to as the reason they voted against the mask mandate.
So if we go to the next slide…”
3:09 = Slide 5: Questions (x3)
- How effective have been the ‘strong suggestions’ and getting public buy-in for voluntary masking in Ottawa in past month?
- What science is behind the position that mask mandates aren’t worthwhile at a city level, and only at a provincial level?
- What does it say to OCDSB and community to say you will support businesses and organizations to implement mask mandates, then provide recommendation to not do so as a submission to the meeting where they will vote on issue?
“… I have the questions where, what does it mean when Ottawa Public Health is publicly stating they will support mask mandates and organizations in the community but then they go to an organization and say mask mandates are not recommended? And then there’s, like you know what happened with all the people disrupting that meeting and it ended in a tie and they don’t have a mask mandate now. So I mean I think that needs to be addressed.
The other questions I think if you’re saying that it’s only up to the province, is there any science saying that a city level mandate doesn’t work? And also are you assessing how well the recommendations are doing at voluntary masking?
So then to the next slide.”
3:52 = Slide 6: Public Education resource tool (intro/overview)
- Crowdsourced Database on the Healthcare Crisis
Online at EquitableEducation.ca
- Primary purpose: Collect various types of relevant information in a central spot.
- This makes the information more accessible to people of varying digital literacy levels, and for people who aren’t able to closely follow all the news and details due to time constraints.
“The motion that was passed at the last [Ottawa] Board of Health meeting was asking the province to do better public education, so I thought this was something I could let you know about, is that I’ve started in the past month this crowdsourced database and I think it’s, it’s a tool that it could be – it has a lot of potential. And the, like… it summarizes what it is there in the slide.
If you go to the next page, next slide…”
4:20 = Slides 7-8: Screenshots from Healthcare Crisis Crowdsourced Database
“So it’s got on the right hand side, it says the four different sections, so this is a way that people can contribute the information they know what’s going on, and other people can find out what’s going on.
And I think it could be a powerful tool, so I wanted to let you know about it. I think a lot of people, like I said, don’t have that much awareness about what’s going on, so I think if you have this collection of information that people can access in different ways, it could do a lot and that’s why I’m presenting it.
And if you go to the last slide, it’s just an example of one of those four tables, and the kind of content that’s there. So I, I leave this to you to use as you wish. I think the… it depends on how people use it, how effective it is. So thank you, happy holidays and solstice.”
5:13 = Slide 7 (not in original presentation, but added in video): City’s “Join a committee or board” webpage
- Screenshot from City of Ottawa webpage section “Recruitment for the City of Ottawa’s committees and boards” that indicates the Board of Health has 5 members to be added in January 2023.
“And I do, sorry I know it’s five minutes, but I just want to say that I know the board is recruiting, so I hope you can promote that well to see, so people know what’s going, like, people can contribute, because I think civic literacy is a big thing too, and so hopefully that is an opportunity to promote more civic literacy and engagement. So thank you.”
[City councillor Catherine Kitts, board vice-chair and meeting moderator:]
Thank you Mr. Macdougall, we’re right on time. Do we have any questions from board members?
Seeing none, did you want to offer a comment, Dr. Etches?
[Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health:]
Thank you Mr. Macdougall, maybe just to …
(The video trails off, continued in full meeting video at around 47 minute mark)