Back to top

Part II: Looking forward / looking back – reflections from across the province and the country on the year that was, and what lies in store

Contents

I Introduction
II A Year in Review
III End-of-Year Issues
IV Looking Ahead
V Building Partnerships
VI Health Promotion in 2010 – A Global Perspective
VII Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Section at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
VIII 2010 Reflections from Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition
IX Reflections of 2010 from the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)

I Introduction

Each year the OHPE invites organizations and individuals working in health promotion in Ontario and across the country to reflect on the past 12 months and muse about the coming year. This is the second part of the reflections piece (the first part ran before Christmas and can be found at http://www.ohpe.ca/node/11909) and the first OHPE feature for 2011. Happy New Year!

II A Year in Review
 – Submitted by Barb Willet, Health Nexus

Two highlights in 2010 stand out for me. The first is the achievement of a significant organizational milestone. The second is the value of putting into practice what we advise others.

Health Nexus celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. For 25 years we’ve been helping communities promote health. Over the years our passion, values, culture and commitment to health promotion stayed the same but the range of initiatives and projects varied considerably – social assistance reform, mental health, health equity, chronic disease prevention, First Nation, Métis and Inuit health, early child development, network building, knowledge exchange, community development, equity and inclusion, determinants of health and the list goes on. From the onset, we have strived to be innovative and leading edge, with a strength in bringing together organizations and people from diverse sectors. This strength, in partnership development, leads me to my next highlight.

Health Nexus is a member of the Healthy Communities Consortium, along with the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, the Ontario Public Health Association, and Parent Action on Drugs. Since 2009, we’ve worked together to provide an array of capacity building services to community groups and organizations working on healthy communities initiatives throughout the province.

Initially we worked to coordinate our activities and services but continued to function individually. This past spring, following an extensive re-structuring process, we moved from coordination to full collaboration. With respect to Consortium services, we now operate seamlessly. It’s been challenging and required a great deal of planning, energy and goodwill by all. In the process, we modeled the very principles of partnership that Health Nexus shares with other organizations. “Practicing what you preach” is not always easy but definitely results in a richness of learning that is invaluable.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been reminded about the importance of the following:

Collaboration and partnerships take time. Time is a valuable commodity and shouldn’t be short changed. Time is needed to get to know each other, to plan together, to listen, to work through differences and make good decisions. Despite our periodic frustration over how long things took, particularly building the infrastructure to support our work together, we couldn’t have moved much faster and still achieved the same outcomes.  

Collaboration and partnerships rely on good clear communication. Words are a prerequisite for collaboration but their meaning can vary considerably. There were many occasions when we realized that we were not in agreement about an issue even though we were using the same words.  This is particularly true when using email, where words and intent can easily be misinterpreted.

Collaboration and partnerships need trust. We need to trust in the skills and expertise we bring to the table, trust in each other and our intentions. Working together we shared responsibilities which required us to “let go” and trust that the work would be done and done well.

Collaboration and partnerships require celebration and fun. It’s easy to get so focused on the work that we forget to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and actually have fun. I’m very thankful that my Consortium colleagues place a high value on this particular principle.

Although these insights are not new, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be reminded of the profound truths that lie within their simplicity. The last six months have been more challenging than I could have anticipated but at the same time, most rewarding and insightful.  

In 2011, our work will continue to be rooted in partnerships. Lessons like this will help to ground us and provide advice to others that blends theory and practice.

III End-of-Year Issues
– Submitted by Connie Clement, Scientific Director, National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health

I write you professionally and personally. I am one week into a new job as the scientific director of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) [written in mid-December], and on the cusp of leaving my home of 27 years and moving to Canada’s eastern ocean.

OHPE readers know that severe inequities in health status compromise the health of Canadians and community well-being in all parts of our country. (By inequities I refer to avoidable and unfair systemic differences in health status among various population groups.) In 2009, Nancy Edwards, the scientific director at the Institute for Population and Public Health, argued that the sector change focus from determinants of health (describing symptoms) to equity (creating solutions). The future health of Canadians and our communities depends upon public health institutions developing expanded roles to improve health equity. Health promoters can and, I hope, will lead the way in re-conceptualizing public health thinking and action and re-embracing the core social justice roots upon which public health was founded.

Looking back at 2010, my highlights are:

Anticipating 2011

I look forward to connecting with numerous OHPE readers through the NCCDH. In championing action to modify determinants of health and advance health equity the NCCDH role is to: help you access the best available evidence, resources, tools; synthesize and translate knowledge for your use and application; facilitate exchange of information and dialogue; support you to gain new skills; and foster and participate in strong partnerships and networks. Our core clients and partners are public health organizations and professionals.

My door is open. If you want to tell the NCCDH about interventions or evaluations you’ve done, seek resources to improve what you do and how you do it, share ideas with others, suggest initiatives that we can carry out, please email me. It’s too soon to even have my new work email address – for now, write me, attention Connie at [email protected].

Happy New Year.

IV Looking Ahead
– Submitted by Nancy Dubois, THCU consultant

Health Impact Assessments

There have been several recent events that lead me to believe that we will be hearing more in Ontario about assessing government decisions based on the impact they have on the health of the population. This is known as “Health Impact Assessment” which is described by the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (www.ncchpp.ca) as “a process that allows policy-makers to take measures to ensure that the potential impacts of policies on the determinants of health are taken into account by all sectors of government.”  

What has led me to predict this trend?

There is an impressive precedent for this being done by our provincial neighbours to the east. Section 54 of the Quebec Public Health Act (2002), states that the Minister of Health and Social Services “shall give the other ministers any advice he or she considers advisable for health promotion and the adoption of policies capable of fostering the enhancement of the health and welfare of the population ... The Minister shall be consulted in relation to the development of measures provided for in an Act or regulation that could have significant impact on the health of the population.”  There are also several international examples of this same type of progressive health-enhancing legislation. For further information on this ground-breaking work in Quebec, access the Briefing Paper from NCCHPP at http://www.ncchpp.ca/docs/Section54English042008.pdf.

The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion held a workshop entitled “Health in All Policies” in September 2010 focused precisely on this topic. This one-day roundtable was held to increase awareness of HiAP by giving public health units and their community partners an opportunity to share their experiences with inter-sectoral collaborations focused on the reduction of health inequities and/or the development of healthy public policies at the local/regional level. The presentations from the event can be found at: http://www.oahpp.ca/about/calendar/20100924.html

I was invited to attend a Health Impact Assessment training session conducted by the NCCHPP and hosted by the Niagara Region recently. This was an introductory session designed for representatives from many regional government divisions to explore how HIA might be applied to their regional work. In addition, NCCHPP was exploring the opportunity to deliver similar training sessions across Ontario and Canada. The basic framework for the workshop focused on the five stages of the HIA process: screening, scoping and summary analysis, in-depth analysis, decision-making and evaluation.

At THCU we have seen a tremendous growth in the last year in requests for training and consultations in the area of policy development, most often at the local level of government (regional, county, municipality).  Health impact assessments at this level and provincially would go a long way in improving the health of the population. Stay tuned for what I predict is more action on this front.

V Building Partnerships
– Submitted by Mandy Johnson, Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada

Canada Walks is thrilled with the large scale awareness of the built environment’s affect on individual health growing across the country this year. The link is integral as health promoting agencies and organizations outside the health sector begin to realize how much our built environment – specifically, walkable communities – affects individual well-being.  

As a result of the increased awareness, Green Communities Canada (GCC), found exuberant interest in their active travel work, including Canada Walks campaigns and the School Travel Planning process. For instance, Canada Walks gratefully engaged the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario as a willing partner in this year’s International Walk to School Week promotion called “I Can Walk to School… Can You?” making the campaign stronger than imaginable without their support.

At the national level, GCC found major funding from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer through its CLASP initiative, with additional funding support from the Public Health Agency of Canada. CLASP, which stands for Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention, unites coalitions of organizations across different jurisdictions and disease areas to collaborate on chronic disease prevention strategies. The funding allows Green Communities and its partner organizations to expand School Travel Planning, which asks school communities to consider modifications to infrastructure among other measures designed to get more children walking and biking to school, to diverse regions across Canada. Support through CLASP shows that the link between the current built environment and chronic disease is becoming increasingly evident to the health sector.

A few prominent publications have taken up the cause as well, helping to build the case for walkable communities. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada released an excellent toolkit this year, called “Shaping Active, Healthy Communities” with a strong focus on walkable communities; while 2010 also saw the wide dissemination of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute’s publication “Planning by Design.” These guides explain why and illustrate how to make a walkable community a reality – it is noteworthy that these publications target various audiences, indicating a desire to drive a walkability movement both from the general public and from a planning perspective.

Outside of the realm of health promotion, “walkability” is a key component of an “Age Friendly” community. With the first of the baby boomers turning 65 in 2011, the benefits of walkable communities for a population that desires to “age in place” is certain to gain prominence through age-friendly initiatives and organizations that support seniors.

Communities that are built for our most vulnerable citizens are built for everyone; and city planners are beginning to understand that. At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities “Sustainable Communities Conference” and the Fresh Outlook Foundation’s “Building Sustainable Communities Conference,” Canada Walks learned that the idea of walkable communities plays an important role in municipal sustainability planning, too. It seems that widespread uptake of walkable communities is on the horizon.  

The coming year is sure to bring tremendous opportunity for Canada Walks to create strong multi-sectoral partnerships and increase awareness that active travel is an easy, affordable, accessible way for every citizen to gain daily physical activity – leading to healthier communities. With perseverance, these multi-sectoral partnerships will lead to a society where active travel becomes part of business as usual for every sector.  

VI Health Promotion in 2010 – A Global Perspective
– Submitted by Suzanne F. Jackson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; Head, WHO Collaborating Centre in Health Promotion, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; Editor-in-Chief, Global Health Promotion
IUHPE

As I reflect back on 2010 from December, I feel excited about health promotion from a global perspective. These feelings are generated because of my particular opportunities to participate in health promotion actions as a WHO Collaborating Centre in Health Promotion, as a member of IUHPE, and as an academic at University of Toronto.

At U of T, we had more than 300 applicants (our largest number yet) for the MPH in health promotion and we accepted our largest class ever – 35 students started in September 2010! This is exciting as these people come from different backgrounds, degrees and work experiences. Our resources may be a bit strained in trying to cope with this large intake but it is an indication of a growth of interest in health promotion. Because there are new schools of public health opening across Canada, my hope is that there will be pressure to include health promotion as part of all of these programs.

I have been fortunate to be involved in efforts to mainstream health promotion in PAHO and WHO in 2010 because we are a WHO Collaborating Centre. Each of these efforts is different but they both indicate a willingness to incorporate health promotion values and ideas at very senior levels in public health globally. In PAHO, health promotion is listed as one of the six cross-cutting priorities for the whole organization and the emphasis has been on competency development. All PAHO staff must demonstrate that they have taken courses corresponding to each of these priorities. I have been involved in developing a short virtual health promotion course with colleagues in Washington, Uruguay, Argentina, and more recently Peru for the PAHO training site. We have developed and pilot-tested the course in Spanish in 2010 and my team in Toronto is busy working on the English version. It is exciting to imagine people across Latin America and the Caribbean getting access to this kind of course in all public health disciplines! I hope that the result will be more awareness and efforts to incorporate determinants of health thinking in data collection and management, participatory approaches to planning and evaluation, and community-wide approaches to disease prevention which include community action and public policy change across all PAHO programs.

In WHO, the mainstreaming of health promotion has taken a different route. The concept at WHO is to give those working on different public health topics and programs (communicable disease, maternal health, oral health, alcohol, etc.) access to the best evidence of health promotion interventions applicable to each topic. Rapid Review teams have been set up with support from Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations to prepare summaries of the evidence. Nadia Fazal and I have been working on a review around the health promotion interventions linked to emergency and disaster management. It is exciting to see the level of discussion about the quality of evidence required to assess health promotion interventions and some openness to considering other forms of evidence in addition to randomized controlled studies. This information will help to inform practice across disciplines in public health globally and hopefully help in making the case to include more health promotion interventions across all public health programs.

 The 20th IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion was held in July 2010 in Geneva. The main themes were equity and sustainable development. There was a plenary on the healthy3 initiative (Healthy People in Healthy Societies on a Healthy Planet) and smaller sessions on a range of climate change and sustainable development topics.  There were some inspiring talks about alternative financial systems based in communities supporting each other. There was lots of good energy and buzz from the health promoters who were there from around the world. As Editor-in-Chief of Global Health Promotion for IUHPE, I find it gratifying that there are so many articles submitted and lined up for publication – I am reviewing now for articles that probably won’t be published until 2012! To me, this is saying that the activity in the health promotion field globally is continuous and I look forward to even more action in 2011!

VII Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Section at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
– Submitted by Dr. Heather Manson, Director, Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion

2010 was a year of significant growth and expansion for the Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention (HPCDIP) section of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.  Since our creation 18 months ago, we have transitioned from initial priority setting to playing a more proactive role in supporting our public health partners through the development of training, tools, evidence-based reports and resources. The following article highlights some key HPCDIP projects over the past year.

A large part of HPCDIP’s expanded capacity arose from the transfer of four health promotion resource centres from the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (MHPS) to OAHPP in April 2010.  With the oversight and support of HPCDIP, these centres – the Alcohol Policy Network, The Health Communication Unit, the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre, and the Program Training and Consultation Centre – continue to provide the high quality products, training and consultation services that play an important role in guiding the work of Ontario health promoters. HPCDIP created a three-year strategic plan focused on improving the collective ability of the resource centres to build health promotion capacity, and is in the process of developing an evaluation plan.

HPCDIP collaborates with the resource centres on the development of innovative tools and products for public health intermediaries. One example is the expansion of The Health Communication Unit’s On-Line Program Planner (OHPP) to include intervention-specific and Board of Health level plans addressing the requirements of the Ontario Public Health Standards. The first batch of sample plans, addressing injury prevention, reproductive health and school health, were launched in October 2010; the remainder will be available in the spring of 2011.

In addition to providing direct support to the field, we also shape health promotion practice through strategy and policy advice. HPCDIP coordinated the work of the Smoke-Free Ontario Scientific Advisory Committee (SFO-SAC), which released its report, Evidence to Guide Action: Comprehensive Tobacco Control in Ontario, in October 2010. To date, the evidence base in this report has been used by the MHPS’ Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group to inform its advice to government. HPCDIP is also in the process of completing a report assessing evidence on the primary prevention of diabetes. An expert stakeholder workshop to review this report is scheduled to take place in the winter of 2011.

In September, HPCDIP launched an ongoing series of webinars to inform our public health partners of current issues and promising practices. To date, webinars addressing the SFO-SAC report, sodium reduction initiatives and bicycle safety have been held.

HPCDIP is also leading a process to determine how OAHPP can best support action on the reduction of health inequities through its mandated functions. Relevant work to date includes the development of an equity assessment framework for public health units and the organization of a day-long equity-focused, pre-conference workshop at The Ontario Public Health Convention (TOPHC) in April 2011.

Internally, our capacity was strengthened by the addition of two team members who bring critical skills and content expertise. In September, Jenny Robertson, who has a PhD in physical education and health, commenced working at HPCDIP as Senior Evaluator. Over the coming year, she will be overseeing the development and implementation of evaluations for our resource centres as well as our internal work. Our first content specialist, Lorraine Telford, a nurse with graduate-level training and extensive field experience, began working at HPCDIP in November. Lorraine will be providing training and advice in the areas of reproductive, child and youth health. Over the coming year, we will be strengthening our internal capacity through the recruitment of two scientists specializing in intervention research.

As you can see, HPCDIP has made substantive progress in expanding its ability to guide the development of effective health promotion, chronic disease and injury prevention practice. However, there is still much to do and the coming year promises to busy.  We look forward to continued engagement with our public health partners in 2011.

VIII 2010 Reflections from Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition
– Submitted by Lorna McCue, Executive Director

During 2010 the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC) continued to grow both in terms of our membership and the range of activities we have undertaken. We worked with many partners on several projects, all of which have furthered the development of Healthy Communities in Ontario. Below are some highlights of our work over the past year:

Healthy Communities: An Approach to Action on Health Determinants in Canada: Funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s “Coalitions for Linking Action and Science” (CLASP) initiative, the main goal of this project is to gather evidence of the benefits of using a Healthy Communities approach to chronic disease prevention. We are delighted to be working with BC Healthy Communities, Réseau québécois de Villes et Villages en santé and Mouvement Acadien des Communautés en Santé du Nouveau-Brunswick as partners in this project. We are also working with the Healthy Communities Research Network at the University of Waterloo on the evaluation of the project, the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance on the translation and printing of “key messages” on chronic disease prevention, and an Advisory Committee of policy and research “experts” to guide the project.

To date we have completed a literature review, provincial network profiles and community surveys, and have translated and printed several documents. Over the next few months we will develop case studies, workshops and additional communications materials. We will also develop a set of guidelines for working collaboratively in both official languages.

In working closely with our sibling Healthy Communities networks, we are finding significant differences in our organizational structures and activities. We have experienced challenges in working collaboratively across different disciplines, sectors, languages, cultures and geographies. However, we share the same fundamental values and principles of Healthy Communities/Healthy Cities initiatives world-wide; i.e. we address multiple determinants of health to build community capacity to create healthy communities. We have found that Healthy Communities is a dynamic force in many communities across Canada, bringing people and organizations together to identify issues, plan strategies, implement actions and create innovative solutions to old and new community issues. It generates and harnesses community energy by focusing on asset development and provides a platform for inspiration and learning.

Healthy Communities Consortium: Over the past year, OHCC has collaborated with Health Nexus, Parent Action on Drugs and the Ontario Public Health Association in the development of the Healthy Communities Consortium, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (MHPS) to support the Healthy Community Fund. OHCC’s role in the Consortium has been to manage the “one window” intake process, plan and implement needs assessment and evaluation activities, and to provide training and consultation services to Healthy Community Partnerships and local/regional community organizations. In addition to the three Consortium Partners, we have also worked with several other health promotion resource centres to provide a series of webinars on topics relating to the Ministry’s priority areas. The benefits of sharing and coordinating our resources and processes far outweigh the growing pains we have experienced during our transitional phase, and there is a high level of commitment and energy for our 2011 –2012 plans.

FoodNet Ontario: From 2007 – 2010 OHCC worked with partners to develop and support a province-wide network to “increase the capacity of Ontario communities to provide access to safe, affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food.”  The Bring Food Home Conference, held March 4 – 6, 2010 in Kitchener, brought together over 300 individuals from diverse regions and sectors to share the wealth of knowledge and commitment to community food security and sustainable local food systems. A regional workshop was held on November 9, 2010, hosted by the London Community Resource Centre, entitled Making Connections, at which over 100 participants highlighted their programs and discussed strategies to promote food security in Ontario. Although this project has been completed, the network is continuing to thrive through its members’ in-kind support. Membership and project data information continue to grow (see www.foodnetontario.,ca) and new funding initiatives are presently being planned.

The Future of the Good Food Box (GFB):  Funded jointly by the Healthy Communities Fund and the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Spark Community Advocacy Fund, this project aims to develop a sustainable business plan for struggling GFB programs, and to activate a coordinators’ network for the approximately 60 GFB programs currently operating within Ontario. Along with background research on the program and the creation of an inventory of GFB programs in Ontario through the FoodNet Ontario website, several regional meetings of GFB Coordinators have taken place to date. A meeting of major national and provincial stakeholders is planned in December 2010 to try to coordinate additional supports for GFB projects in Ontario.

Healthy Communities Volunteers: Several OHCC members volunteer in strategic initiatives such as ensuring that OHCC is an inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of Ontario and the development of responses to provincial policy reviews.  Our “Healthy Communities Champions” are also an important part of the OHCC team. These twelve volunteers, who reside in various regions of the province, provide networking and information services on behalf of OHCC.

In general, 2010 has been a very good year for OHCC, but we are cognizant that despite efforts around collaboration and service coordination, we continue to operate within a highly competitive environment. I have found that inter-organizational relationships are strengthened when there is an understanding and acceptance of the unique assets, relationships, structure, culture and needs that each organization brings into the mix. Similarly, in working with communities we need to ensure that we allow the necessary time to discover the wealth of communities in terms of their assets, partnerships and history; and to build relationships and good will.

We are looking forward to nurturing our existing partnerships and developing new ones in 2011 as we continue to build strong, equitable and sustainable communities in Ontario.

IX Reflections of 2010 from the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
– Submitted by Connie Uetrecht

2010 has been an interesting year for public health in Ontario and the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA). Dominating the landscape this year were three events that had their beginnings in 2009: the H1N1 pandemic; the launch of the Healthy Communities Fund; and the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotions (OAHPP) fulfilling its mandate. Additionally, significant policy and curriculum changes have affected Ontario schools in 2010 and the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA) had a very busy year.  These occurrences had enormous repercussions – and opportunities – for OPHA.

The effects of the H1N1 Pandemic

“Returning to normal” would describe what our colleagues in public health units were experiencing as we began 2010.  After spending over six months responding to the H1N1 pandemic, public health units began the new “normal” of continuing to implement the new Ontario Public Health Standards whose implementation began in 2009. The diversion of resources to H1N1 resulted in fewer consultations made to the provincial resource centres hosted by OPHA: the Alcohol Policy Network (APN), the Nutrition Resource Centre (NRC), the Heart Health Resource Centre (HHRC) and the Towards Evidence Informed Practices program.  In addition, our Youth Engagement project funded by Health Canada’s Drug Strategy experienced a delay in implementing the youth engagement pilot projects.  In reflecting on 2010, I am pleased to report that our service requests are now above pre-H1N1 normal.  For example, both the Alcohol No Ordinary Commodity forum in March and the Healthy Communities Consortium Workshop in October experienced the highest level of attendance to date. Local implementation of the healthy eating programs coordinated provincially by the NRC was also at an all time high.

The Healthy Communities Fund

The Ministry of Health Promotion (MHP), now known as the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (MHPS), launched the Healthy Communities Fund in 2009.  Included in the fund is the Healthy Communities Consortium, a collaborative of four provincial resource centres including the Heart Health Resource Centre. Throughout 2010 the Consortium’s four partner organizations (Health nexus, OPHA, the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition and Parent Action on Drugs) worked hard to develop an organizational structure, common operating processes and procedures and a ‘one-window’ access point for clients. As of July 2010 the Consortium began providing services to local networks and organizations under the Consortium name. As 2010 draws to a close, the Consortium is undergoing a communications and branding strategy so that their services can be clearly articulated to their clients.

The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion

The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP) began taking on responsibilities to fulfill its mandate.  Three examples involving OPHA illustrate the influence of this important Agency on the work of others in our field.
 

  1. Transfer of provincial resource centres to the Agency.  This year the Alcohol Policy Network at OPHA and three other former resource centres of the Ontario Health Promotion Resource System began receiving their funding and direction through the OAHPP.  
  2. In anticipation of the transfer of the provincial funding from the Public Health Research Education and Development (PHRED) program, the OAHPP undertook a consultation process to identify how it will begin to fulfill public health unit expectation of the services left unfulfilled with the closure of the PHRED program. OPHA participated in this consultation process. The public health field is now waiting in anticipation of the final decision regarding the PHRED functions that it will implement.  As I reflect on this year on behalf of OPHA I would like to acknowledge the PHRED program and its staff for its excellent contribution to public health research, education and knowledge exchange over the past two decades. We also bid farewell to the PHRED program as a constituent society of OPHA.  
  3. OAHPP also began to plan its first convention in collaboration with OPHA and alPHa now scheduled for April 5 – 8, 2011 at the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre.  This bigger event replaces OPHA’s annual conference. Instead, OPHA launched a new format for its event – a policy forum. This year the forum focused on five aspects of the built environment. A proceedings document with recommended actions on the built environment has been released to stimulate policy change. OPHA hopes to build on this format in the future.

Policy and Curriculum changes affecting Ontario’s Schools

The Ministry of Education, with substantial assistance from the Nutrition Resource Centre on behalf of MHPS, launched the School Food and Beverage Policy with supporting resources and training sessions. Work continues to support parents, students and public health nutrition staff by providing resources that explain the policy and facilitate implementation. One of the most powerful public health documents for schools, the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, was updated and released this year.  Public health had significant influence on the content of this excellent policy document via OPHA which facilitated a coordinated response regarding its content.  

The work of the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA)

The OCDPA, for which OPHA is the secretariat, launched a series of common message backgrounders which address behavioural risk factors affecting chronic disease: unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, tobacco use/exposure, high-risk alcohol consumption and poor mental health. Building upon these common messages, OCDPA through a Healthy Communities Fund grant, is developing a policy toolkit to support local communities to make policy changes for healthier communities. This toolkit will be released in Spring 2011. In addition OCDPA is developing an advocacy campaign, Make Ontario the Healthiest Province in Canada, a call to all the political parties to increase investment in health promotion and chronic disease prevention. We hope that all our health promotion colleagues will join the Alliance in the call for increased investment in health promotion. A web-based campaign will begin in 2011.

Looking forward to 2011

To help deal with all the recent changes, OPHA undertook a strategic planning process in 2010. As part of the new direction the Association will be developing a new membership strategy and a business model. After enjoying almost six successful and fulfilling years as Executive Director of OPHA, I left my post with the Association at the end of December to make room for new leadership at OPHA. Personally, I will be looking for new opportunities to advance health promotion and population health in Ontario. The year ahead – 2011 – will be another exciting one for public health in this province, and I wish you all the best as you continue your efforts.