Ottawa Public Health seeking funding options to meet 2017 demand

Public Health officials expect to be very busy next year.

A report prepared for next week's Board of Health meeting outlines budgetary and staffing pressures Ottawa Public Health expects to encounter in 2017.

It all ties back to Canada's 150th birthday celebrations. Routine work, like food inspections, must still go on, but OPH expects a 25% to 50% increase in the number of special events they'll need to monitor.

The report says the sheer number of events, combined with the year-long nature of 2017 festivities, and the increased number of tourists and vendors, will put pressure on the health department's ability to carry out inspections.

In all, OPH is expecting as many as 1800 special event inspections next year.

The report says staff are looking at all of their options, including finding operational efficiencies, or reallocating employees. They say inspections of low-risk businesses may need to be deferred in order to properly monitor special events. Due to many events being in the evenings or on weekends, overtime costs are also expected to increase.

OPH is also warning of possible cost overruns should a disease outbreak occur during a large event next year. Routine surveillance of communicable disease risk will be ongoing, but an outbreak would require additional resources, depending on its size and scope.

The report says additional funds have not been identified for the added work of 2017, but staff say opportunities to access special funding related to next year’s events may present themselves, and they'll be seeking the Board of Health's approval to seek out those funds.

The Board of Health meets November 4th.