New collaboration between five major agencies would tackle root causes of health and social issues in the city
Barrie’s mayor is hoping to bring five major players in the local health sector together to work on addressing root causes behind many social issues facing the city, with the ultimate goal of diverting funds from reactionary measures to prevention.
On Monday’s general committee meeting agenda is a memo from Mayor Jeff Lehman to all members of council concerning the new Barrie Health Accord. The accord would bring five main agencies together to come up with solutions: the City of Barrie, the County of Simcoe, the Barrie Police Service, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
“Our population growth will result in a dramatic increase in the demand for health care, as the Barrie area population is set to roughly double over the next 20 years, as well as the impacts of our aging population,” wrote Lehman. “What if we could proactively allocate a modest percentage of our investments to develop programs that address and deal with the determinants of health?”
While Lehman notes that addressing root causes has been the core objective of many government programs, to this point no collaborative effort has been initiated across the local health-care sector and related institutions to address the determinants of health.
Social determinants of health include housing, employment, and access to treatment for mental health or addictions.
“It is my opinion that a substantial investment in the determinants of health should be made alongside planned major investments in acute care (hospital expansion),” wrote Lehman. “As well, there is a need for further investments in other care facilities which can take pressure off acute care by providing a more specialized environment such as long-term care, residential addictions treatment, inpatient mental health beds, hospices, and supportive housing.
“The health accord is the critical first step… and begins the work that needs to be done to shift spending upstream,” he added.
To date, Lehman notes there have been informal discussions with the leadership at the five organizations proposed to sign the accord. All organizations will be bringing the proposed accord to their respective boards or councils. The Barrie Police Services Board endorsed the motion at its July 23 meeting.
The mayor’s memo and motion will be considered at Barrie city council’s general committee meeting on Monday night, and at the County of Simcoe’s joint council and committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday morning.