United Way Simcoe Muskoka Collaborative Project
The social determinants of health are the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. The connection between health and poverty is so clear that the World Health Organization has declared poverty the single largest health determinant.
The implications of poverty on Canada’s population are far-reaching – poverty has the effect of even shortening people’s lives. Researchers have found that men in the wealthiest 20% of neighbourhoods in Canada live on average more than four years longer than men in the poorest 20% of neighbourhoods. Homelessness exacerbates this risk to an enormous degree. While the life expectancy for the average Canadian is 77 to 82 years, for a homeless person, it is only 34 to 47.
In 2019, United Way Simcoe Muskoka launched a new community investment fund for its six sub-regions focused on poverty impact initiatives. In 2020, a collaborative of Community Connection, YMCA Collingwood, South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre, and the Georgian Bay Family Health Team, were awarded a grant of $233,742 over 3-years to reduce the impact of poverty on residents in South Georgian Bay.
The Poverty Interventions Equal Health Interventions project is working to fill this gap by creating an integrated system that allows physicians to identify those impacted by poverty, and health and non-health organizations to securely share information, manage referrals, and provide long-term support.
The project has invested $87,000 towards developing a digital platform (Community Information Exchange) to allow physicians, healthcare providers, and community service organizations to make electronic referrals to 211 in a secure environment accessible through electronic medical record systems.
Since then, the collaborative has established a South Georgian Bay Navigators Network to ensure individuals and families are cared for before urgent needs surface and is piloting a Community Action Network to work towards reducing the people experiencing health inequities and work on system-level improvements. The Network is currently exploring financial education sessions for budgeting and taxes.
United Way Urgent Needs Funds
Community Connection has partnered with two United Ways, Simcoe/Muskoka and Perth/Huron, to support their Urgent Needs Funds program that assists residents across the counties with modest, one-time grants to overcome the everyday obstacles that poverty makes more difficult.
Community Connection provides the intake, assessment, and custom data collection for reporting. Funds may be e-transferred or provided in person at partner locations across the regions.
In 2023-2024, the Urgent Needs Funds will allocate over $250,000 to households qualifying for one-time grants up to $250.