While we celebrate what makes the municipalities of Simcoe County great, we recognize that not every resident enjoys the same quality of life. There are factors and characteristics in our lives that either hinder or help us. Depending on these factors and circumstances, residents may find themselves struggling to achieve education, find work, having to decide if they pay for their housing or put food on the table, feeling disconnected and alone, struggling every day with mental health or addiction, or wondering where they can find the help they need and how they will carry on. Many of those mentioned above are considered to be among the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health are the collective set of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine a person’s health. Where we are born, grow up, live, work, and age also influence our health and well-being.
The circumstances surrounding the determinants of health are complex. Often, police find themselves responding to calls that are complex but not criminal with no chargeable offences. The police are available to the public 24/7, but that does not mean that they are the most appropriate to respond to calls that are often medically or socially complex. In looking at root cause, there is a clear indication that all sectors have a shared responsibility to support our residents’ safety and well-being.
The Government of Ontario has demonstrated its commitment to supporting communities by developing a provincial approach to community safety and well-being. Under the Province of Ontario’s Bill 175, Safer Ontario Act (2018), the Ministry of the Solicitor General requires that the Council of every municipality shall prepare and, by resolution, adopt a Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Plan on or before July 1, 2021. The CSWB Plan will address local needs based on local risk factors. This type of planning is intended to focus on upstream strategies. By examining and addressing root causes rather than just the symptoms, we can improve the lives of residents in our community by changing outcomes specific to health, well-being and safety.