Cornwall, May 24, 2022 – As front-facing community health organizations, we’ve seen what our community has endured during the pandemic, and the supports needed to get through a crisis. We’re raising our voices for marginalized people here in Eastern Ontario because having leaders and policies that support community health matters. Here are the principles guiding us:
Community Health Matters. Ontario needs to support community health organizations so they can support their communities. To support community health organizations like ours in Eastern Ontario, we need leaders who will address the health human resources crisis, including through repealing Bill 124, the pay freeze on health care workers, and by ensuring funding levels for operations can meet rapidly rising costs and increasing needs. We also need leaders who are ready to make team-based primary health care more widely available. We know people have specific needs for primary care, mental health, culturally and linguistically specific services. In our region we do not have equitable access to those services. Ontario must act now to address these gaps.
Health Equity Matters. Ontario needs to support community health organizations’ innovative and transformational local leadership in communities across the province to improve health care experiences and outcomes for marginalized populations. This means finding ways to put Indigenous health in Indigenous hands through systemic change that supports both Indigenous-governed organizations, and cultural safety training so all spaces are safer for Indigenous people. This means supporting Francophone health by ensuring someone’s preferred official language is integrated into the Ontario health card as soon as possible. It means building on innovations to expand and improve care for 2SLGBTQ+ health, including ensuring accessible trans care within primary care. It means greater access and equitable services for rural communities. And it also means collecting socio-demographic and race-based data in health care that’s needed for a clear picture of the health of all populations, and to identify and address disparities.
Digital Equity Matters. Ontario needs to prioritize equitable and sustainable access to e-health and virtual health services by funding community health organizations to deliver digital equity programs. Whether someone lives in a city, suburban area or rural region, innovations in digital health hold promise to improve the lives and health of people isolated and marginalized in our region while also helping to make our health system more sustainable – if paired thoughtfully and equitably with principles of digital equity. We need leaders who support policies that not only drive a technology revolution in health care, but who understand this important transformation needs to benefit everyone.
Our community health organizations have been especially busy lately with diverse activities, programs, and services to support our communities during those tough times. We’re able to do that work through the support for Ontario’s community health sector. We’re doing that while we continue to offer the wraparound, comprehensive primary health care services you expect from us, as we continue to work to ensure no one is left behind in our region.
The pandemic has taught us many lessons. One important lesson is how interconnected health, and public health, truly are. To ensure a thriving in Eastern Ontario and a thriving Ontario for decades to come, we must invest in community health now. It’s an investment in the future for all of us.