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Community Health and Wellbeing Week 2022: Confronting Inequity, Celebrating Community

This week and this month, the Alliance for Healthier Communities along with 110 comprehensive primary health care members are inviting communities and partners across the province to join us in celebrating Community Health and Wellbeing Week (CHWW) 2022. Our theme this year is “Celebrating Community, Confronting Inequity”. This week is a time to celebrate community health work, while calling for efforts that confront inequity by building on work done made throughout the year to break down barriers to equitable health. More than ever, we stand together for strong, publicly funded and publicly delivered health care services, centred on and informed by people and communities.

The pandemic is and continues to be proof of why local, community-driven interventions matter. From local safer supply interventions to address the opioid poisoning crisis, to Black Social Prescribing initiatives taking holistic approaches for health equity, to digital equity projects aiming to bridge gaps through community collaboration and cooperation – we see the work among our members and their partners in every corner of Ontario. Those are some of the primary reasons we celebrate community this week, even as we acknowledge that the needs in many communities often outstrip the resources available.

Again and again, staff, volunteers, community board members and others at Alliance member organizations step up and respond to the needs of their communities. To ensure that’s possible, we need governments and health system leaders to find ways to prioritize community health within the wider health system. Equitable and fair funding throughout the health system, to ensure that community health organizations can recruit and retain staff for much-needed and vital services, so they can meet community needs before they become acute or emergency health concerns, is what will help end the capacity crisis we see now.

Simply funding hospitals alone isn’t enough. Don’t take our word for it: It’s what many wider health system leaders have said for years, and lately, too. The evidence cited from before and during the pandemic shows the key importance of community health, and the challenges it faces because of chronic underfunding, and neglect in decision-making processes overall.

This Community Health and Wellbeing Week, we’re asking everyone to help us change the conversation away from a health system that’s focused on illness and managing crisis to crisis, and to move towards funding a health system with a focus on keeping people healthy and well, on prioritizing access for people who face barriers and for whom continued inequities in health mean continued poor health, illness, suffering and increased use of the health system overall.

The inequities we must confront take many shapes: people who face discrimination in accessing health services, or who are living with preventable health conditions are glaring examples. Black and racialized people, Indigenous communities, 2SLGBTQ+ communities, isolated seniors, people experiencing homelessness and those facing mental health and addictions issues face disproportional impacts from barriers. People living in rural, remote and northern communities in Ontario are facing increasing barriers to access. Inequities are rooted in overt and systemic racism, lack of access to services, language barriers and stigma. To be able to celebrate community together across Ontario, we must confront inequities and barriers together across Ontario, in every community, and for every population, every day. We stand together to confront inequities and celebrate the power of community. Will you stand with us?

Join our movement by becoming a Community Health Equity Builder through the Alliance for Healthier Communities.

Monday, October 17, 2022