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LET’S RETHINK HEALTH

- Local Voters Being Asked to ‘Rethink Health’ and Elect Candidates Who Will Support Overall Community Well-Being -

Health is about more than health care, a point that will be driven home to local voters during this fall’s municipal election.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is launching the #RethinkHealth campaign to coincide with the municipal election on October 27. The #Rethink Health: Root Cause, Real Solutions campaign includes a package of information for local election candidates, as well as a video, brochure, web resources, print ads and social media messages directed at voters.

The purpose of the #RethinkHealth campaign is to promote the fact that decisions made by local governments, as well as the services they provide, can greatly affect the health of people in the community. Voters in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes will be asked to keep this in mind when choosing candidates in the October 27 municipal election.

“We need to rethink health, and realize it is more than just doctor shortages and hospital emergency room wait times that affect our well-being,” says Kristina Nairn, a Social Determinants of Health Nurse, with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Our health is also connected to where we live, the opportunities we have, the choices we make, and the decisions made by our government.”

In addition to access to health care and services, Nairn notes that other factors, or “root causes” can affect people’s health and well-being. These include: income, housing, education, employment, social support networks, physical activity and healthy child development. “Research shows that people with lower incomes tend to be less healthy,” Nairn says. “By addressing factors like lack of income, we can remove a significant barrier and help more people reach their full health potential.”

Municipal governments have a significant role to play in creating a healthy community through the decisions they make and the programs and services provided to residents, Nairn adds. For example, municipal governments can: develop a local poverty-reduction strategy; ensure housing options exist for people of all ages, incomes and abilities; support and encourage fair living wages in the community; champion affordable access to recreation; and work towards constructing roads, sidewalks and cycling lanes that encourage safe and active transportation.

“There is payoff in all of this for voters and elected officials,” Nairn adds. “When people are healthier, they are better able to contribute to their community in time and taxes and make it a more vibrant place to live and work. A healthier community can also result in reduced costs for policing, social assistance, housing and health care.”

Local voters are being encouraged to choose municipal candidates who will support these “real solutions to community well-being,” Nairn says.

In addition, the Health Unit is also urging candidates who are elected on October 27 to take ‘health equity’ into account for any decisions they make on municipal council.

“Health equity means ensuring all of us have the opportunity to reach our full health potential by overcoming factors and forces that can negatively affect our well-being,” Nairn adds.

To find out more about the #RethinkHealth campaign, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

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For general media inquiries, contact:

Kristina Nairn, Social Determinants of Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, ext. 1252.

In Northumberland County, contact:

Heather Grundy, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, ext. 1488.

In Haliburton County, contact:

Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

In City of Kawartha Lakes, contact:

Doreen Boville, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

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