Following through with one of the recommendations shared in The Algoma Public Health Assessment Report by Graham Scott, released Tuesday June 16th,2015, three of the four Algoma Public Health Board members, who had been serving on the Board prior to the 2014 Municipal election, have resigned.
Board Chair Marchy Bruni, Vice Chair Janet Blake and Provincial appointee Debbie Kirby have complied with the request, and submitted resignations, effective Wednesday, June 17th,2015. Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for the Sudbury District Health Unit, and Acting Medical Officer of Health for Algoma Public Health Unit acknowledged that three resignations have been received prior to the scheduled APH Board Meeting at the Health Unit Wednesday evening. “I can confirm that three of the four individuals have submitted their resignations and one is still pending.” Reflecting on conversations she has had with the three individuals who resigned, Dr. Sutcliffe said “While they are disappointed, their commitment to public health and to the citizens of this community is important to them individually. Upon receiving the notice of the report’s findings, collectively they are trying to do what is in the best interest of this community, and organization. They wish to see Algoma Public Health successful.” adding “Marchy Bruni, who was at the helm of The Board for some time, and believes in a strong public health system, was disappointed in the outcome of the report, but he believes in his fiduciary duties, and responsibilities and wishes for the organization to be successful going forward. What this signals to staff is a fresh step forward. Algoma Public Health does need a fresh start, and this is one of the ways, and processes Mr. Scott, the assessor was anxious for us to undertake in order to gain traction going forward.”
“Procedurally, the next step is to elect a new Chair and Vice Chair, which will be taking place at the meeting tonight”. shared Dr. Sutcliffe. Two of the individuals who resigned held the positions of Chair and Vice Chair. “The expectation for the meeting was that quorum would be achieved, which would allow for electing a new Chair and Vice Chair to the APH Board.” The appointee from the municipality of Wawa, Ron Rody was still in the process of making decisions regarding his resignation, which had not been received as of Wednesday’s APH Board meeting.
Shortly after the official APH Board Meeting came to order, Lee Mason, (representing the town of Bruce Mines, Village of Hilton Beach, Township of Hilton, Jocelyn, Johnson Laird, MacDonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional, Plummer Additional, Prince, St. Joseph, and Tarbutt and Tarbutt Additional) was acclaimed as Chair of the Board. Ian Frasier, representing Sault Ste. Marie, was acclaimed as Vice Chair.
Insofar as the recommendations to appoint members to the Board on the basis of skills, “We expect to meet with the Ministry of Health via teleconference next week, and will have a better understanding of the recommendations.” shared Dr. Sutcliffe, adding “There were a number of recommendations related to a skills based board, a way of appointing board members who may or may not be municipal councillors. We will know more about this in the near future.”
Public Health Boards have their budgets funded up to 25% through municipal monies. One of the recommendations going forward was to look at the amalgamation of (some) Public Health Units.
“In the context of the broader picture for the Ministry of Health provincially, there is an intent to review the entire public health system” shared Dr. Sutcliffe with respect to one of the recommendations by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins. That particular recommendation would undertake amalgamation of Algoma Public Health with Sudbury and District Board of Health. “That is out there now as a recommendation. It’s not something we can ignore.” said Dr. Sutcliffe “However, it’s an issue for a future date when we have more information from the Province of Ontario, and Ministry of Health to work with.”
Mayor Christian Provenzano, City of Sault Ste. Marie was part of Wednesday nights’ APH Board agenda.
He shared “This has been a difficult experience for all of the community, and staff of APH. The best thing we can do, is to work together to move forward. I recognize that this Board is now waiting for the Forensic Audit from the Ministry of Health. The City of Sault Ste. Marie values what you do. I want to specifically thank you, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe and Sandra Lacle for the leadership and strong management you have brought to Algoma Public Health. Further to that I would like to acknowledge and thank the Board of Health for the District of Greater Sudbury for their cooperation and allowance, in providing us with this excellent interim leadership, management and good governance.”
Addressing the issue of the KPMG Audit, Mayor Provenzano stated “I think that the community would benefit from understanding what the road blocks are with respect to the KPMG Audit not being released. I’m concerned that the community at large doesn’t understand what the impasses are, and what is standing in the way of releasing the report publically.”
Speaking to that issue, Sandra Lacle, Acting Chief Executive Officer APH, shared that “The Board is interested in releasing the KPMG report. The challenges are really two fold. One is that the Board has two (2) contractual obligations. One is with KPMG and one is a contractual obligation that prohibits the Board form releasing the report at this time. Secondly the Board has received a Freedom of Information request. The Board is in full compliance with wanting to release the report, but is prohibited from doing so, as it relates to the FOI request. The Board is going through the ‘up-the-line’ process. We are bound by Legislation as a government agency, that we are subject to through Municipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act, as it relates to private third party information. It prohibits us at this time from releasing information as it relates to the second contractual obligation. We have contracted the services of a lawyer, and as we all know, these processes takes time. The intent for the Board is to release the report.” The Auditor, KPMG, so far has refused permission for APH to release the report. Contractual and legal obligations have prohibited APH Board from releasing the report to the public and sharing what the specific issues preventing them from doing so, are.
To that point, Mayor Provenzano stated “It’s unclear to me why the auditor would not want to release the report. But I think it’s important that the community understand that APH is dealing with two contractual and legal obligations that are prohibiting the Board from sharing information contained in the Auditor’s Report. If there is anything that the City of Sault Ste. Marie can do to support the process, we will consider those things if needed.” Mayor Provenzano shared that he is available to any of the Board members and is open to meeting with any of them, and is looking forward to working with the members of the Board for APH.
Sandra Lacle could not expand on the second contractual obligation stopping APH Board from releasing the report.
“I want to acknowledge the excellent work of Algoma Public Health staff in responding to and supporting public health in our communities over this last while,” shared Dr. Penny Sutcliffe.