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Health care professionals are powerful advocates for change to broader health, socioeconomic and environmental conditions that impact on health.  In this section, you will find information and opportunities to advocate on select issues that the SMDHU is currently advocating on.

Many Simcoe Muskoka residents do not have enough money to access sufficient and nutritious food that meets their needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. Household food insecurity (HFI) is the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. It is a strong predictor of adverse health outcomes such as chronic diseases, mental health conditions, social and community well-being as well as life expectancy. It places a burden on our health care system.  Household food insecurity touches the lives of many Ontarians, including 1 in 5 children which could have detrimental outcomes for early childhood growth and development, and problems that last into adulthood.

Household food insecurity is a persistent and serious public health, human rights and social justice issue that is on the rise nationally, provincially, and in Simcoe Muskoka. It requires income and policy solution-based action at all levels of government.

The health unit participates in local food insecurity and poverty reduction strategies and works with municipalities and community partners to increase awareness and knowledge about household food insecurity and the income and policy solutions that can reduce it.

We encourage you to:

  • Increase your knowledge and awareness by checking out the information in the links below.
  • Speak up and talk about household food insecurity within your networks – share key information and statistics on social media or through other opportunities.
  • Get involved in local poverty reduction coalitions that address household food insecurity.
  • Take action by advocating to the federal and provincial governments for policy interventions that target improving incomes for those most affected, specifically advocating for:

           Increasing social assistance rates

           Reducing income taxes for lowest-income households

           Increasing investment in the Canada Child Benefit

           Implementing basic income guarantees

           Enhancing legislation that support secure, quality jobs that pay livable wages and benefits

           Investing in attainable housing

Use the letter template from the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health for help getting started.

For more information about household food insecurity click here.

For local statistics visit our HealthStats page.

To learn more about SMDHU’s Nutritious Food Basket Survey and food affordability visit our website pages here.

Please reach out to us to find out more about collaborating on action to reduce household food insecurity.

Visit these additional links to find out more about effective strategies and actions taken to reduce household food insecurity: 


Health professionals play an important role in assessing and managing the impact of the social determinants of health (SDOH) on individuals and families, and can act as strong advocates for systemic change to address health inequities. Here are some resources to support the integration of the SDOH and to address poverty in your work.

Clinical Resources:

  • CLEAR Collaboration: The CLEAR Toolkit – an aid to assessing patient vulnerability in a contextually appropriate way
  • Anderman A. Taking action on the social determinants of health in clinical practice: a framework for health professionals. CMAJ 2016 December 6;188:E474-83. (link to CMAJ - membership required)

Poverty Screening and Intervention Tools for Primary Care providers:

ODSP Application Supports:

Patient resources:

Professional Development:


Programs and Services:

Advocacy opportunities:


The health unit has identified climate change as an important public health issue and is developing an action plan that is targeted for implementation by March 2015. The health unit will be communicating Environment Canada’s heat warnings to the public and community partners during the summer of 2014. Going forward, the health unit will also be working with municipalities, community agencies, school boards and daycare centres on comprehensive community heat alert planning.

The health unit continually strives to put in place best practices to create safer more positive spaces for staff, clients and community members of all gender identities and sexual orientations (LGBTQ).  We collaborate with local community partners to increase the capacity of our health and social service providers to offer equitable, culturally competent and inclusive services.

According to Rainbow Health Ontario, “LGBTQ people have many of the same health concerns as anyone else, but cultural differences and the impact of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and systemic discrimination mean that these health needs may be experienced quite differently. Due in part to negative past experiences, many LGBTQ people may delay or avoid seeking health care or choose to withhold personal information from health care providers. In general, LGBTQ people end up receiving less quality health care than the population as a whole.”

Here are some resources to support the integration of LGBTQ inclusive services into your work.


Oral Health Advocacy, Financial Assistance and Resources

Oral health is integral to good overall health, yet is not part of our universal health care system.  Many people without dental coverage who cannot afford care visit primary care providers to alleviate oral health problems. Primary care providers interested in advocating for clients and communities to reduce oral health disparities can access information on current Ontario oral health advocacy campaigns, information on financial assistance programs and oral health reports and resources through these links. 

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