December 12, 2007

The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) as the lead CPCHE partner has been funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation to explore and identify opportunities for public health inspectors to assess children’s health and environment issues while visiting child care facilities, day cares and before-and-after-school programs. 

Background

Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) in Ontario are guided by provincial regulations and the Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines developed by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The purpose of the Service Guidelines is to set out the minimum requirement for fundamental public health programs and services targeted at prevention of disease, health promotion and health protection.

The most recent version of the Service Guidelines do not integrate children’s health and environment issues within the “Child Health” guideline. As a result, some health units address the prevention of exposures to contaminants in a general way under the “Hazard Investigation” guideline. Other health units may not have the capacity to work on such issues or do not view this work as part of their mandate as dictated by the current Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines. It is important to note that the Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines are currently being revised and children’s health and environment issues have been integrated more specifically.

This is a unique opportunity to explore how PHIs might integrate the broader range of environmental health issues into their day-to-day health promotion and protection activities, beyond those dictated by existing regulation. In addition, there is a need to examine those regulated activities to ensure that the protection and prevention measures are working in concert with those related to preventing exposure to contaminants.

A consulting team lead by Ryerson University will be conducting the review of:
a) current public health inspection practices that prevent/minimize exposures to contaminants in the childcare settings, daycares and before-and-after school programs;
b) public health inspection knowledge and attitudes towards children’s environmental exposures in childcare settings;
c) barriers and facilitators that exist to encourage public health inspection practices that will result in taking action to prevent/minimize exposures, and
d) strategies for increasing PHI knowledge, shifting attitudes and implementing actions that prevent/reduce exposure.

The PHIs project will be completed in late spring 2008.