Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Clearly No Appetite To Stop Fluoridation In Ottawa

- March 18th, 2014

The letter below fuelled some unexpected debate at a public health board meeting yesterday.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit was looking for the Ottawa health board’s support in asking the province to essentially take over funding and promotion of municipal water fluoridation.

Interesting that the letter suggests that too much time and resources have gone into combatting the anti-fluoridation movement, which was pretty much confirmed by Dr. Isra Levy, Ottawa’s medical officer of health.

There was some discussion at the health board meeting about whether the health unit should write a letter of support. One member was wary about writing a letter because it would draw attention to the anti-fluoridation people. And Coun. David Chernushenko, as I noted in the story, expressed skepticism about fluoridation.

However, it was clear the board, for the most part, and Levy give no credence to anti-fluoridiation groups (example). Under this health administration and board, fluoridation is here to stay.

It is interesting, though, how many Canadian municipalities have stopped adding fluoride to their water supply.

By the way, everything you want to know about how the City of Ottawa adds fluoride to our water can be found here.

SimcoeMuskoka Fluoride Jan15 2014

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

Watson’s Next Move After Casino Health Report

- August 20th, 2013

Has public health’s opposition to new casinos given Mayor Jim Watson pause for thought?

It’s uncharacteristic for Watson to admit he hasn’t brushed up on a major city issue after being asked for insight. A Sun reporter tried to get his thoughts Sunday and I tried again yesterday afternoon, minutes before the public health board vetted, and ultimately accepted, the report. I touched base with his office last night to see if the mayor would comment, since the board endorsed public health’s opposition. But, nothing again. It doesn’t sound like the mayor intends to speak on the matter until the finance and economic development committee meeting Monday.

(Note: Five councillors on the health board — Holmes, Fleury, Chernushenko, Hobbs and Egli — voted in favour of opposing more access to gaming in Ottawa. Coun. Shad Qadri voted against.)

Watson obviously knows the crux of the health report. So, I surmise the mayor is thinking about his next move.

Which is, really, what this whole month delay has been for council. But the delay, in my opinion, is mostly related to how politicians plan to keep Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk happy while endorsing expanded gaming at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

And now council has something else to deal with: Public health’s recommendation to be handed $350,000 of the city’s annual gaming commission from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., new casino or not.

It’s all rather uncomfortable.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

Dr. Christiane Farazli To Face Discipline Hearing

- July 16th, 2013

This just in: Dr. Christiane Farazli will face a disciplinary hearing at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

Farazli is the endoscopy doctor whose out-of-hospital clinic failed an inspection in May 2011. The college says the clinic’s instruments weren’t being cleaned properly. That prompted Ottawa Public Heath to try and track down about 6,800 former patients to tell them there was a very low risk they were infected. The college has been investigating ever since.

There are several allegations involving several patients. In sum, the college alleges incompetence.

No hearing date yet.

Transparency (Hopefully) Coming To Clinic Inspections

- January 30th, 2013

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is holding a special meeting Thursday to decide if there should be more transparency in its out-of-hospital inspection program.

Here’s the full report for the college’s council.

Basically, the council will decide if it should post results of those clinics that fail inspections on its website. The executive committee has already agreed to the move.

There’s plenty of mystery surrounding the new out-of-hospital inspection program. The college doesn’t really talk about the aftermath of an inspection, leaving patients asking questions that aren’t answered.

It hits home in Ottawa since an endoscopy clinic failed an inspection almost two years ago and there has been no update since then.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Public Health’s Farazli Correspondence

- January 17th, 2013

I have spent several days going through a stack of internal communications related to the Ottawa public health response to the investigation of Dr. Christiane Farazli.

You’ll remember that Farazli has been under review by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario after her endoscopy clinic failed an inspection in May 2011. The college says the clinic wasn’t properly cleaning equipment between patients. That prompted public health to notify about 6,800 of Farazli’s patients about the inspection.

The email trail between public health, the college, the Ministry of Health and Public Health Agency Ontario is what you would expect when a major health problem pops up — there’s back and forth about responsibilities and how to communicate the issue to patients and the public.

There’s nothing in the documents — which I received through access to information and which were partially blanked out, citing legal/privacy reasons — that tell us much more than what we already know about the investigation.

One thing is for certain: This was a first for the public health unit. It had to dip into literature and research to determine how they would measure the risk to patients. “This is new work for us, as we have never conducted a risk assessment such as the one required for this situation,” program manager Brenda MacLean told a manager at Public Health Agency Ontario in August 2011.

Indeed, as Dr. Isra Levy, the city’s medical officer of health, has already suggested, public health had its hand forced by the media — particularly, it appears, the Sun and CBC — who were sniffing around the story before it went public. Sensing the story was about to break, Levy called a snap press conference on a Saturday to make sure the facts were out there without panicking the city.

“I decided to move to contain the story as much as possible with accurate information because I judged this approach to be wiser than the other options to the interests of potentially affected patients and to the overall public interest objectives that have motivated me in this matter,” Levy told health professionals, including Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Arlene King, in an email on Oct. 16, 2011, a day after that first press conference.

It’s worth noting that although we haven’t heard much from Farazli about the whole ordeal, the documents suggest she was co-operative with public health. Interestingly, she says in one email to public health that her Carling Ave. endoscopy suite in question is “permanently closed.”

A lawsuit by her patients is still sitting in court (the allegations haven’t been tested). As for the college’s investigation, it’s been quietly ongoing ever since the inspection.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at