Morning Coffee – By Aaron Hall

Weather forecast for Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today – Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. High 29. Humidex 34. UV index 8 or very high.

Tonight – Clearing this evening. Low 17.

(Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Phones out at CKHA

Routine mechanical maintenance at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) will shut down power to the phone system, local servers and the connection to the Regional Data Centre beginning Wednesday, August 9 at 11 p.m. and is anticipated to end on Thursday, August 10 at 7 a.m.

CKHA officials say during this time frame incoming calls to the hospital’s telephone number (519-352-6400) will be directed to a power fail phone line. Callers who receive a busy signal are asked to call back until the line becomes available. The downtime will affect all clinical units at CKHA’s Chatham Campus and will require staff to implement their unit specific downtime procedures.

Staff will make use of available power fail phones throughout the facilities and will rely on paper-based processes for patient care. All staff and physicians working during the downtime have been notified of the downtime plans by their unit/department leads and are encouraged to speak to their team leads to understand the procedures and processes in place.

Lights located outside the Public General Hospital wing (located on the northwest side of the building) will also be affected during the power outage. Staff and visitors are asked to proceed with caution in this area. Additional security personnel will be on-site during this time to escort families, visitors and staff to their vehicles by request.

CKHA has worked to ensure the appropriate processes are in place to continue to support quality patient care and to mitigate the impact on patients during the downtime. This work includes identifying high risk scenarios and building contingency plans to address these situations should they arise during the power outage.

Abortion pill available across Ontario at no cost

Ontario is giving women more choice over their reproductive health by making Mifegymiso, a safe and effective medical alternative to surgical abortion, available at no cost.

Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women, on behalf of Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was at Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre in Toronto recently to announce that, as of August 10, 2017, women with a valid health card and prescription from their doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to get the drug for free at participating pharmacies across the province.

Mifegymiso is taken to medically terminate an early pregnancy. It is a safe, effective and non-invasive alternative to a surgical abortion that women can administer themselves. By making it available at no cost, Ontario is giving women more autonomy around their reproductive health, removing a financial barrier, and increasing equity of access to abortion — particularly in rural and remote areas.

“We continue to make important progress helping women across Ontario gain access to the health care they need,” Naidoo-Harris stated in a press release.

“The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception.”

Ontario is increasing access to care, reducing wait times and improving the patient experience through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care and OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare – protecting health care today and into the future.

‘Our government is safeguarding women’s right to choose by providing them with access to a safe and non-invasive alternative to surgical abortions free of charge across the province — making it easier to access health care where and when they need it,” Hoskins said.

More details:

– Mifegymiso is a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, used to medically terminate early pregnancies (up to 49 days from the start of the last menstrual period).

– It is considered a safe and effective alternative to a surgical abortion.

– Mifegymiso is the only brand of the drug currently approved by Health Canada to be marketed in Canada.

– Prescribers and pharmacists will have access to appropriate training.

Wettlaufer inquiry launched

Ontario has appointed the Honourable Justice Eileen Gillese, an experienced judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, to lead an independent public inquiry into the policies, procedures and oversight of long-term care homes.

In particular, Justice Gillese has been asked to inquire into the circumstances and systemic issues which may have contributed to the assault and death of residents who were under the care of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former registered nurse in long-term care homes in southwestern Ontario. The inquiry will help get answers to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to head this very important Inquiry dealing with matters that affect the lives of all those in long-term care homes in Ontario, Gillese stated in a press release.

“My team and I will do our utmost to determine how these events could occur and to make recommendations so that the tragedies of the past are not repeated in the future.”

As part of her broad mandate, Justice Gillese will review the accountability measures in place to ensure they meet the objectives of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, and provide recommendations to improve the safety and well-being of residents.

“What happened to the victims and their families in southwestern Ontario was a tragedy,” stated Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, in a press release.

“This inquiry will help provide answers to those affected and ensure something like this never happens again. Our parents and grandparents deserve to live in comfort, with access to the best care possible and we want to assure the public that Ontario’s 78,000 long-term care residents are safe in their homes. Justice Gillese’s recommendations will help ensure that loved ones in long-term care homes continue to be safe and secure.”

The appointment of the commissioner has already taken effect.

A final report, including all recommendations, will be delivered to the Attorney General by July 31, 2019 and will be made available to the public.

“I want to reaffirm my deepest sympathies to the families affected by this tragic situation,” stated Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

“The safety, quality of care and quality of life of Ontario’s long-term care residents continues to be our government’s priority. This inquiry will bring critical answers that will allow our government to further ensure the safety and security of long-term care residents.”

Ontario’s oversight system in long-term care specifically focuses on the safety and security of residents. Appointing Justice Gillese to lead the public inquiry into the oversight of long-term care homes is one of the many steps Ontario is taking to protect the safety and well-being of residents and ensure homes across the province are meeting the highest standards of care.

More details:

– Justice Gillese has been a sitting judge with the Ontario Court of Appeal since 2002. Previously she served as a trial judge of the Superior Court of Justice and was the Dean and Professor at Western University’s Faculty of Law.

– The Gillese Inquiry will have a broader scope than the police investigation or prosecution – it will not only look at what occurred, but also look for any underlying issues that need to be addressed and make recommendations to ensure that the objectives of the Long-Term Care Homes Act are met.

– Justice Gillese has served as the chair of a number of organizations, including the Pension Commission of Ontario, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and the Financial Services Tribunal of Ontario.

– Elizabeth Wettlaufer pled guilty to, and was convicted of, eight counts of first degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. She has been sentenced to life in prison for these offences, which she committed while working as a registered nurse in southwestern Ontario.

Ontario adds 25,500 jobs in July

Ontario’s economy continues to perform strongly, adding 25,500 jobs in July.

There was an increase of 17,600 full-time jobs and 7,900 part-time jobs.

Employment in Ontario is up 137,900 jobs, year over year. The province’s unemployment rate has been below the national average for 28 consecutive months.

“Our government has made economic growth and job creation our top priority, and our efforts are clearly paying off,” stated Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, in a press release.

“We have worked hard to ensure an economic environment that is positive and allows the private sector to create good jobs and drive economic growth.”

The employment increase was led by gains in the information, culture and recreation, wholesale and retail trade and business, building and other support services sectors.

Highlighted in the province’s 2017 First Quarter Ontario Economic Accounts, Ontario’s real GDP grew one per cent in the first quarter of 2017, outperforming Canada, the United States and all other G7 countries. This builds on a 0.5 per cent boost to real GDP posted in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Increased business investment and consumer spending were the primary drivers behind the overall GDP increase. Business investment grew 5.5 per cent, with residential construction rising by nearly eight per cent.

Building on this economic momentum, Ontario is taking historic action to create more opportunity and security for workers with a plan for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs. This includes hiking the minimum wage, ensuring part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers, introducing paid sick days for every worker and stepping up enforcement of employment laws.

The government will continue to work with business as these changes are implemented to ensure Ontario’s competitive economic environment continues to support the creation of new, good jobs for people across the province.

Supporting Ontario workers and businesses is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

More details:

– On a year-over-year basis, employment has increased in many economic regions across the province, including Muskoka-Kawarthas (11.2 per cent), Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula (5.3 per cent) and Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie (4.9 per cent).

– The 2017 Burden Reduction Report identified $29.3 million in savings, bringing the total amount of burden reduction savings to $152 million since 2011.

– Ontario new motor vehicle sales increased 2.5 per cent in May, the fourth increase in five months. On a year‐to‐date basis, Ontario new motor vehicle sales increased 5.3 per cent over the first five months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.

– Ontario wholesale trade edged up 0.1 per cent in May, the sixth consecutive monthly increase. Wholesale trade rose 9.3 per cent over the first five months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.

– Employment in 2017 is forecast to increase by 1.3 per cent, or 94,000 net new jobs. In 2016, Ontario employment increased by 1.1 per cent, equaling 76,400 net new jobs.

Photo of the day

(Dana Haggith)

Have you seen the new fountain in downtown Dresden? It looks great during the day, and even better at night! Great work by the community to add this awesome addition to the downtown core.

World news

If you have a suggestion, story idea, column idea, or if you want to say hello… drop me an e-mail at aaron@sydenhamcurrent.ca.