New Barrie Health Accord signed between city, county, police, hospital, and health unit

"This is truly a proactive approach to address the root causes impacting many of our health care services."

Some of the city’s top public sector organizations have come together on a new health provision agreement designed to take a long-term view of the city.

The Barrie Health Accord was signed by representatives of the City of Barrie, County of Simcoe, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and Barrie Police Service during a virtual media conference on Monday afternoon. The accord commits these organizations to a decades-long partnership to create a coordinated plan for investment in the health and safety of the city.

“At our core, we all serve the public, and we know the public is best served if we are able to take a long term view,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “And though I’m sure we will all remain laser focused on the COVID crisis that’s in front of us, today is very much that critical first step towards a longer term, healthier community and collaboration that I believe will will benefit our residents for the longer term.”

“This landmark health accord is a commitment among regional partners to address and approach issues and challenges impacting the health and well being of our communities and residents, but by doing it differently,” added County Warden George Cornell. “This is truly a proactive approach to address the root causes impacting many of our health care services.”

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s CEO Janice Skot compares Monday’s signing to the planting of a tree. “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. So today we’re going to seed. It will take root, I am convinced it will grow and flourish and together, the fruit of our labor will be a healthier community.”

Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, pointed out his office has already been working with municipalities for decades, but is glad to see others joining the fight to better provide wellness to the city’s residents. “Going forward, if we’re going to make serious differences and improvements in the health of the population, it will have to be done in a very broad way together as partners. So certainly, the Board of Health is very pleased to be part of this initiative.”

Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood says this accord helps to build on the Service’s existing Community Outreach and Support Teams, tasked with aiding those in mental health crises. “This is just one example of how strong partnerships within the city of Barrie can assist individuals and families who may need support for more from more than one single service provider. We see firsthand the importance of ensuring we provide the proper support to those in need. Whether it is a person that experiencing a mental health crisis, and intimate partner violence survivor or an individual facing the challenges of addictions and homelessness. This is why it’s so encouraging to be involved in this partnership.”

Monday’s agreement is unique in that it represents the first known comprehensive effort by organizations such as these to tackle the long-term health of a community. It will look at the root causes of health concerns such as food security, nutrition, active living, and housing.