Peterborough Medical Officer of Health tackles opioids, pot and minimum wage during downtown breakfast meeting
Speaking to a crowd of downtown business owners and workers, Peterborough’s Medical Officer of Health outlined what she views as three key concerns for the city’s centre: Opioids, cannabis and the minimum wage increase.
During the DBIA’s monthly breakfast meeting, Rosana Salvaterra acknowledged that some of what she was going to tell the crowd of 20 people would be controversial.
“I appreciate that they listened to me,” she said after the meeting. “I don’t expect they all agreed with me.”
Peterborough Public Health has advocated for a few measures that have either raised eyebrows or drawn the ire of members of the downtown business community.
The health unit is part of a group trying to bring an overdose prevention site —otherwise known as a safe injection site — to Peterborough.
No location has been set yet, but it’s likely it will be situated downtown.
“I think we have to take a good look at our EMS data on where the overdoses are occurring and use that to pinpoint the best location,” she said. “Evidence shows that if the site is more than a kilometre away from where people are using, they won’t use it. So why bother?”
Salvaterra also broke down the health unit’s numbers on the minimum wage bump that came into effect in the New Year. Peterborough Public Health spoke in favour of the wage bump, citing evidence that a stable and livable wage creates healthy individuals and communities.
“I wanted them to understand the evidence,” Salvaterra said. “Why is income such an important determinant of health? Why do need to invest in ensuring that all households have adequate incomes?”
But those numbers weren’t enough to sway longtime business owner Jean Grant, who said she’s struggling under the new labour legislation.
“My employees have had their hours reduced, so they are making the same amount of money they used to make, and I am working far more hours than I used to, and I am making far less money,” Grant said, adding that many small business owners aren’t wealthy individuals. “This is not a good time for retail. Everyone is shopping online. There’s less money out there.”