Dog bites spike during pandemic

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The health department handles requests for rabies status reports

Author of the article:

Monte Sonnenberg

Publication date:

04 Oct 202110 minutes agoRead for 2 minutes Join the conversation The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has seen a significant increase in dog bites since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic last year.  - File photo The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has seen a significant increase in dog bites since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic last year. – File photo Photo by John Lappa /John Lappa / Sudbury Star

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A report will be presented at the monthly meeting of the Norfolk and Haldimand Health Committee this week pointing to a noticeable increase in dog bites since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.

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“Freedom of information requests related to rabies screening related to dog bite incidents are becoming more routine,” said Kevin Klingenberg, Norfolk County assistant clerk and community director of legislative and information services, in a report to the health department.

“Before 2020, inquiries about freedom of information in rabies examinations were rare. In 2020, five out of eleven inquiries about freedom of information received by the health department related to investigation files into dog bites.

“To date, in 2021, the frequency of these requests for freedom of information has increased to eight out of a total of 11 requests for freedom of information.”

Klingenberg’s report comes to the Health Committee meeting on Wednesday because Norfolk’s Clerks Department – the Freedom of Information Request handler at Governor Simcoe Square – wants to process requests for rabies information under the Personal Health Protection Act rather than the communal Freedom of Information Act, as is currently the case is.

According to Klingenberg, the change will give the administration department more flexibility in handling such inquiries. In addition, the district can adjust the costs according to the effort.

When a potentially diseased animal is bitten, time can be of the essence. The city’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Act and Personal Health Information Protection Act set a 30-day period for city officials to respond to requests for information.

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However, according to PHIPA, under the terms of “expedited access”, “the health information custodian” has the authority to act “urgently” when circumstances warrant.

Norfolk’s Clerks Department is also required by the City of Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to charge only 20 cents per photocopy for municipal files. The county may also charge $ 10 for a laser disc that contains the same information.

Conversely, municipal information officers within the framework of PHIPA can give an estimate at the beginning of how much it will cost to compile the records of the health facilities. According to the legislation, information agents “can charge the person a fee if the custodian first gives the person an estimate of the fee.

“The amount of the fee may not exceed the prescribed amount or the amount of reasonable cost recovery.

“A health information custodian may waive all or part of the payment of the fee an individual is required to pay if the custodian believes that it is fair and equitable.”

Klingenberg recommends referring the proposal to Norfolk County’s budget deliberations for 2022. When the proposal goes to the Norfolk Council in January, it will be included in a draft report on user charges.

The counties of Norfolk and Haldimand share a health unit. Norfolk Council serves as the health committee for both counties because of Norfolk’s larger population. As such, the Norfolk Clerks Department manages freedom of information requests on behalf of the Health Department.

The Norfolk and Haldimand Health Committee usually meets on the first Tuesday of each month. The October meeting is on Wednesday because Tuesday is the opening day of the 181st Norfolk County Fair in Simcoe.

The health committee meeting on Wednesday starts at 2:00 p.m. A livestream feed can be viewed on the Norfolk County website.