Equality coalition joins health experts in calls to restructure Hamilton Board of Health

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Published May 17, 2021 at 9:38 am

A coalition of equity-seeling community members is joining calls for the restructuring of the Hamilton Board of Health, which the group says “lacks structural representation and analysis.”

Currently, the Board of Health is comprised entirely of members of City Council.

The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion announced the campaign on Monday (May 17) in a media release on the behalf of the Health Equity & Anti-Racism Coalition.

The group believes the board should include local health experts, medical students, environmental experts, and representation from racialized communities — which have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a wealth of knowledge and leadership in Hamilton to draw on to help influence the ways we consider public health issues, research, knowledge, and experience,” says the colation. “Many have experienced the ways in which this knowledge and leadership are too often neglected. The pandemic has illustrated the importance of including health experts and community members in public health policy and decisions.”

Last March, a group of health experts delegated at a Board of Health meeting on the very issue of inadaquicies in the board’s membership. That led to Council voting 10-2 in favour of requesting that staff present options for Board of Health reform.

The recommendations are expected in June.

“From May 17 till June 14 members of the Health Equity & Anti-Racism coalition will be engaging with residents virtually to raise awareness about the lack of health and community expertise at the Board of Health,” writes the coalition. “Without health and community expertise at the Board of Health residents of Hamilton will continue to experience poor health outcomes.”

The group recommends that the health board be comprised of six elected council members, one education representative, and six members of the public and health leaders from “equity-seeking” groups.

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