Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Meeting Notes March, 16, 2016

Mar 23, 2016
Two new on Board of Health; Plan aims to create health equity for those living in low income; More help needed for those who can’t afford dental care

Two new on Board of Health

The province has appointed two new representatives to the Board of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. Steve Kinsella of Barrie and Dr. Peter Willmott of Wasaga Beach were welcomed at the Board of Health’s March meeting. Steve Kinsella served 41 years in law enforcement and is currently the manager of municipal law enforcement for the Town of New Tecumseth. He serves on several committees with the City of Barrie, including the Simcoe Muskoka Youth Justice Committee. Peter Willmott has an extensive career in environmental health in both the U.K. and Canada, recently retired as the director of health protection services with Halton Region. He continues to work as a volunteer in environmental and active transportation causes.

Plan aims to create health equity for those living in low income

The health risks faced by Simcoe Muskoka’s lowest income citizens are severe enough that the health unit has created a set of priorities to help them achieve “health equity” with the rest of the population. Megan Williams, manager of health promotion and communications, presented recent data showing the extent of low income in Simcoe Muskoka to the Board of Health. She said that while 12 per cent of Simcoe Muskoka’s total population is classified as low income, the number jumps among some specific groups: 32 per cent of single parent families are living in low income, while 19 per cent of those of Aboriginal identity are living in low income. Williams outlined an action plan aimed at re-orienting some of the health unit’s own programs and services to better serve families and individuals of low income, and working with community partners to identify ways of addressing the factors that create poor health in the low income population. An interactive map posted to the website shows areas where low income is the deepest in local communities. Research shows a higher prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, oral health problems and shortened life expectancy among those living in the lowest income group.

More help needed for those who can’t afford dental care

The Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health is calling on the province to extend financial support for dental care to institutionalized seniors, low income adults and seniors and the working poor. The decision follows a review by the health unit into the burden of oral diseases in Simcoe and Muskoka. Currently there is provincial support for low-income families to get care for their children up to 18 years of age, for emergency care for adults using Ontario Works and for adults on disability support. However, those programs only cover a limited percentage of vulnerable populations who are currently not getting the dental care they need.

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