The Barrie Health Accord, which is aimed at addressing the root causes of health conditions that demand the need for emergency services and treatment, will be signed on Monday by five local organizations.
The City of Barrie, Simcoe County, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) and the Barrie Police Service will sign the agreement, which Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman believes is the first step toward a new, collaborative approach for addressing the “most urgent issues” in the city.
“I’ve been working to pull together these five organizations — who collectively control annual budgets of more than $1.2 billion — because we have the chance to change our future,” Lehman said in a statement.
“For far too long, we have had to focus on being reactive, on emergency response. Addressing route causes together is the way we will shape a healthier, safer future for all our residents.”
Since early 2020, Lehman has been in discussions with leadership from the five organizations that are signing the accord about future planning for community wellness.
The main goal, which is addressing root causes, is the core objective of the Shift Government project at the City of Barrie.
“As our population increases dramatically, so does the demand for the specialized care RVH provides, but we know the focus on health and wellness must begin outside our health centre walls,” Charlotte Wallis, chair of RVH’s board of directors, said in a statement.
“As we plan for a major expansion of RVH, along with a new south campus, it’s vital that partners work together to identify and address the issues that shape community health and well-being.”
The Barrie Police Service has also been steering the community safety and well-being plan through its initial planning stages.
As the project evolved, the plan started to look at the social determinants of health, including housing, employment and access to treatment, which are some of the same root causes that are being considered to address upstream in health care.
“Our members regularly work with individuals in crisis in our community to ensure they have access to health and wellness resources,” Angela Lockridge, chair of the Barrie Police Services board, said in a statement.
“This collaborative partnership, focused on long-term planning, will improve the health and wellness of our community as we grow over the coming years.”
Each of the five organizations involved approved a motion of support for the accord at their council and board meetings over the last few months.
Once signed, officials say the accord will align Barrie’s health care and emergency service organizations toward broader community wellness, while continuing to invest in the emergency care and services that are needed in the city.
Barrie officials say the accord is the “first agreement of its type in Canada.”
“Recognizing the need for change, our community has taken an important first step in what we believe is needed to attain long-term health and well-being,” Lehman added.