Community health, health equity and digital equity matter

Provided by Seaway Valley Community Health Center

Cornwall, May 24, 2022 – As leading community health organizations, we have seen what our community has endured during the pandemic and the supports needed to get through a crisis. We raise our voices for marginalized people here in Eastern Ontario because we have leaders and politicians who support community health issues. Here are the principles that guide us:

Community health issues. 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 tackle the health human resource crisis, including repealing Bill 124, the wage freeze health workers, and ensuring that funding levels for operations can meet rapidly rising costs and growing needs. We also need leaders who are ready to make team-based primary health care more widely available. We know that people have specific needs for primary care, mental health, culturally and linguistically specific services. In our region, we do not have equitable access to these services. Ontario must act now to close these gaps.

Health equity matters. Ontario must support innovative and transformational local leadership of community health organizations 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-led organizations and cultural safety training so that all spaces are safer for Indigenous people. . This means supporting the health of Francophones by ensuring that a person’s preferred official language is incorporated into Ontario’s health card as soon as possible. This means building on innovations to expand and improve 2SLGBTQ+ health care, including ensuring accessibility of trans care in primary care settings. This means better access and equitable services for rural communities. And it also means collecting sociodemographic and racial data in health care that is needed to get a clear picture of the health of all populations, and to identify and address disparities.

Digital equity issues. Ontario must prioritize equitable and sustainable access to eHealth and virtual health services by funding community health organizations to deliver digital equity programs. Whether someone lives in a city, suburb or rural area, digital health innovations promise to improve the lives and health of isolated and marginalized people in our region while helping to make our healthcare system more sustainable – if they are thoughtfully and fairly combined with principles of digital equity. We need leaders who support policies that not only drive a technological revolution in healthcare, but who understand that this important transformation must benefit everyone.

Our community health organizations have been particularly busy lately with various activities, programs and services to support our communities during these difficult times. We can do this work with the support of Ontario’s community health sector. We do this while continuing to provide the comprehensive and comprehensive primary health care services you expect from us, as we continue to work to ensure that no one is left behind in our region.

The pandemic has taught us many lessons. An important lesson is how interconnected health and public health really are. To ensure the prosperity of Eastern Ontario and the prosperity of Ontario for decades to come, we must invest in community health now. It is an investment in the future for all of us.

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