Last day on the job for Niagara's Medical Officer of Health
Today marks the last day on the job for Niagara's outgoing Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Val Jaeger is retiring from Public Health today after holding the post for 7 years.
While she wasn't giving radio interviews, she did send us a letter.
You can read it below:
Thanks from an outgoing Medical Officer of Health
As residents of Niagara, we have much for which to be thankful - generally benign weather as far as Canada goes, exceptional hiking and biking trails, and seasonal access to amazing fresh produce.
As Medical Officer of Health for Niagara for the past 7 years, I am also grateful for the daily work of the hundreds and thousands of people across Niagara who dedicate their lives to improving the health of others. Public Health's work is always accomplished in partnership with others; school boards, community services, primary care, daycares, the Y, and a host of not-for-profit and private sector organizations. I would hope that all our partners already know how much their work is appreciated.
In this article, however, I would like to highlight the importance of a group of people who would never appear on public health's usual list of 'partners'. I am referring to those whose overseas colleagues belong to the most dangerous occupation in the world today - journalists. Fortunately, the members of the press in Niagara do not face imprisonment or worse, but neither do I feel that they often get the recognition that they deserve. We in Niagara are so very lucky to still have locally-based media outlets for both print and radio that care about things that are happening close to home and have the interest and expertise to report on them.
When I was doing my Master of Public Health training at U of T a number of years ago, we had a presentation from Andre Picard, the health columnist from the Globe and Mail. He told our group that the press could either be our greatest ally or a perpetual thorn in our side and that the choice was ours. Although I do not agree with Mr. Picard on everything, he was absolutely correct in this. In my time here, I can truthfully say that the balance in Niagara is strongly to that of the local press being a great ally. Not that Niagara's reporters are not independent, because they are. In their own words, the truth is to be uncovered, not owned and I fully respect their need to probe and question. But, I cannot imagine managing the local response to such things as the measles outbreak, the HINI pandemic or a toxic spill without the immediacy of local journalism.
So, to all the reporters and radio show hosts, thanks for caring enough to ask the difficult questions, thanks for being there when Public Health needed to let people know which schools are closed or whether it's safe to go outside again after a toxic spill and, most of all, thanks for being a voice for Niagara.
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