Public Health Ontario Releases Updated Terms of Reference for the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table

News Release

1 Sep 2022

Toronto, ON, September 1, 2022 — Public Health Ontario (PHO) has released updated Terms of Reference for the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Operating under the new name — The Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee (OPHESAC) — the updated Terms of Reference establish a mandate which reflects a long-term, sustainable approach that ensure the provision of credible and independent scientific and technical public health advice to the province on COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.

The updated Terms of Reference describe the future functioning of OPHESAC, including its updated mandate “to enhance provincial capacity to respond to a spectrum of public health emergencies with the best available evidence. OPHESAC will provide independent scientific advice to PHO, and where appropriate through PHO to the Ministry of Health, to inform the management of public health emergencies consistent with PHO’s mission, vision, mandate, and values.” A copy of the full Terms of Reference can be found on the OPHESAC webpage.

“The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has provided invaluable, independent scientific advice for more than two years. We want to thank all of the members for the very important contributions they have made and will continue to make supporting Ontario’s response to COVID-19. As the new permanent home to the Committee, PHO is looking forward to working with the newly named OPHESAC to provide scientific and technical public health advice to the government, public health units and health sector partners on COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.”

— Michael Sherar, President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Ontario

OPHESAC membership will continue to be comprised of independent, multi-disciplinary experts. It will include a total of 15 core members, external to PHO. The leadership of the Committee will include a Chair and Vice-Chair. Separate from the Committee, a PHO Executive Liaison will support the OPHESAC leadership and secretariat, which will include a Scientific Director.

Existing Table members have been invited to submit their expressions of interest to join OPHESAC before the public call for members is announced on September 8.

OPHESAC will have its first meeting in October 2022.

Continuing Important COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Reporting
PHO will continue providing important surveillance data on COVID-19 activity in Ontario, aligned with its mandate for provincial infectious disease surveillance reporting. In an effort to streamline the ongoing collection, analysis, and reporting of COVID-19 data in Ontario, starting Thursday, September 8, 2022, the Science Advisory Table’s COVID-19 Ontario Dashboard will no longer be updated. PHO is currently reporting on indicators similar to the indicators from the Science Advisory Table’s Dashboard. As it has since 2020, PHO’s COVID-19 Data Tool, will continue to provide high-level summaries of COVID-19 case trends (including hospitalizations and deaths), laboratory testing, vaccination, outbreaks and breakdowns by age/sex and public health unit. PHO also offers a series of more detailed COVID-19 epidemiological summaries.

PHO appreciates the very significant contributions the Science Advisory Table made with the COVID-19 dashboard and novel methods, including wastewater surveillance. Starting September 16, PHO will publish a new Wastewater Surveillance webpage (located on our Data and Surveillance webpage), which will align with the existing ‘Wastewater Signals in Ontario’ data from the Table’s Dashboard.

A detailed description of where you can find COVID-19 data that was in the Dashboard in PHO’s resources can be found on the Dashboard webpage.

The original Science Advisory Table website will be archived this fall. It will continue to be accessible, but no further content updates will be made. OPHESAC will continue producing important scientific reports and recommendations to support PHO and the province in its response to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies. All OPHESAC resources will be made publicly available on PHO’s OPHESAC webpage.

To access the COVID-19 data and surveillance reports and tools, visit PHO’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance webpage.

About Public Health Ontario
Public Health Ontario is an agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health. Public Health Ontario links public health practitioners, front-line health workers and researchers to the best scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. For more information about PHO, visit: publichealthontario.ca.

For the latest PHO news, follow us on Twitter: @publichealthON.

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Published 1 Sep 2022