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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CANADA: Ottawa Wants Help to Cover Costs for Tainted Clinic
Ottawa Citizen
October 31, 2011
Edmonton Journal (10.29.11) - Monday, October 31, 2011

Ottawa's top attorney on Friday updated city officials on details relating to an infection-control lapse at a local endoscopy clinic. The city's medical officer of health will seek help from Ontario province to cover the "unprecedented" $750,000 (US $753,000) cost of responding to the situation, Solicitor and City Clerk Rick O'Connor told city councilors in a memo.

The investigation will target some 6,800 people who were patients of the clinic over a 10-year span, O'Connor said. Typically Ottawa covers about 25 percent of the costs of health department programs and services, with Ontario paying the rest, he said.

"The medical officer of health was compelled by his mandate to assess the situation and ultimately, to allocate public resources toward investigating the public health implications of the lapse, mailing letters to patients, and staffing a dedicated information line," O'Connor said. Ontario's health system "is structured such that taxpayer-funded public health authorities bear costs associated with addressing public health issues in the community." "The medical officer of health was statutorily obligated to assess, develop, and implement a response to address the very low risk that patients and secondary contacts in the community were exposed to hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and/or [HIV], all of which are infectious and reportable diseases that the medical officer of health is obligated to monitor and control in the community," O'Connor noted.