The First Indigenous Health Strategy for Toronto is Launched

TORONTO, ON (May 18, 2016) - The Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle (TIHAC) launched the first ever Toronto Indigenous Health Strategy to the Indigenous community and partners on March 23rd. Communication with key stakeholders will take place over the coming months as the TIHAC communicates key elements of the strategy to stakeholders. A Reclamation of Well Being: Visioning a Thriving Healthy Urban Indigenous Community: Toronto’s First Indigenous Health Strategy affirms that self-determination is at the core of building a strong, healthy, and resilient Indigenous community.

“This is a model of Indigenous health in Indigenous hands. We can only be successful with the community. I think that this is particularly true of the Indigenous community if we work in partnership and take our lead from members of the Indigenous community themselves,” said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto.

“I see a thriving and healthy Indigenous community where Indigenous patients can move seamlessly through the health care system, where cultural elements of care are offered as a choice with every interaction, and where Indigenous people are determining their own pathways to health that are meaningful to them,” said Susan Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

The principle of self-determination has informed every step in the creation of the strategy. It was conceived by the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle (TIHAC). As a circle of dedicated community leaders, TIHAC provides recommendations to the Toronto Central LHIN (TC LHIN) and Toronto Public Health (TPH) on improving health outcomes for Indigenous people in Toronto. In addition, TIHAC provides broader policy and advocacy direction on improving the social determinants of Indigenous health.

In this first Indigenous Health Strategy for Toronto, TIHAC recommends a number of strategic activities that will impact what and how health programs and services are provided in addition to addressing health influencers such as the education, housing, food and justice systems.

“It’s a living process, and so it moves with the time. There is a continual dialogue in the community about what a healthy Indigenous community can look like,” said Joe Hester, Executive Director of Anishnawbe Health Toronto

Despite health inequities and hardships, Toronto’s Indigenous community has tremendous strength and resilience. Improving Indigenous health outcomes falls within the mandates of both TC LHIN and TPH. While both organizations fund Indigenous health, TPH also provides various programs and services accessed by community members. There are also a number of health services provided by Indigenous and other non-Indigenous organizations in Toronto. However, much more is needed. Reducing health inequities experienced by Toronto’s Indigenous community requires a coordinated and wholistic approach – one that harmonizes traditional and mainstream health programs and services.

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Ellen Blais 
Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network 
416-969 3282 

Leila Monib
Toronto Public Health