McGuinty Government Working to Reduce Injury in Ontario



    Ontario's Sport Safety Helmet Program to Provide Free Helmets to Youth

    KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ON, Aug. 8 /CNW/ - The McGuinty Government is
launching its Injury Prevention Strategy to reduce the frequency, severity and
impact of preventable injuries Health Promotion Minister, Jim Watson and MPP
for Kitchener-Centre, John Milloy announced today.
    To complement the launch of the strategy, Watson and Milloy announced
that the government is providing funding to ThinkFirst Canada, an organization
dedicated to preventing brain and spinal cord injury through education, to
enhance helmet safety awareness by providing free helmets to children and
youth in Ontario from low-income families. This is one of the key initiatives
being funded through Ontario's Injury Prevention Strategy in 2007-2008.
    "Injuries are one of the most pervasive yet preventable health challenges
facing this province and all Ontarians are at risk," said Watson. "The Ontario
Safe Sport Helmet Initiative is designed to encourage the use of helmets among
youth as a way for them to play safe while enjoying their sport and
recreational activities."
    An estimated 13,000 Ontarians visit hospital emergency departments each
year with a cycling injury, and brain injuries account for nearly 67 per cent
of those who are killed in bicycle accidents. Children under the age of 15
have the highest injury and death rates associated with cycling activities.
    Minister Watson and MPP Milloy announced the strategy at a sport helmet
safety event this morning in Kitchener. They also unveiled public education
posters that will be distributed throughout the province with the tagline:
"Buckle Your Bucket."
    Minister Watson also commended MPP Milloy for his efforts to bring the
issue of helmet safety forward. Milloy's Private Members' Resolution on helmet
safety received unanimous all-party support in the legislature.
    "The safety benefits of wearing an approved helmet while participating in
high-impact sports and recreational activities far outweigh the consequences
of not wearing a helmet if an injury occurs," said MPP Milloy. "I am pleased
to see the Ontario government in partnership with ThinkFirst Canada launch an
initiative that will both prevent injury and save lives."
    "I am thrilled that the Ontario government is taking a leadership role in
launching a strategy that will help to coordinate injury prevention efforts
across the province," said Jim Russell, Executive Director, ThinkFirst. "I am
delighted that we had a role in the development of this important strategy and
I am pleased to be working in partnership with the Ministry of Health
Promotion on the Safe Sport Helmet Initiative, as a first step in this
strategy which is working to reduce injuries."
    ThinkFirst will roll the program out in three phases, supported by helmet
safety education and awareness materials to work towards Ontario's youth
playing safe while getting active. Phase one will provide 1,000 helmets to
youth at bicycle helmet fitting clinics in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto
and North Bay; phase two will provide sport helmets to some community
recreation programs for participant use in ongoing programs; and phase three
will be a sport helmet voucher program that will provide youth who may not
have the means to purchase a helmet, with a voucher to obtain a helmet that
will suit their sport or activity.
    In 2007-2008, the Ontario government will be investing approximately
$2 million in the strategy comprising the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet
Initiative, and the following:

    
    -  The "Ontario Children's Rural Safety Program," in partnership with
       Safe Kids Canada, will raise awareness and understanding of
       farm-related injuries in children and how to prevent them;

    -  The "Community-Based Injury Prevention Mobilization" initiative, in
       partnership with Safe Communities Canada, will expand the
       implementation of their model into identified communities which are at
       the greatest risk of injury;

    -  Support will be given to the Ontario Public Health Association's
       injury prevention projects which include the Ontario Injury Prevention
       Resource Centre services provided by SMARTRISK; and, support for
       public health managers overseeing the Injury Prevention Including
       Substance Abuse Prevention mandatory program, with the Ontario
       Neurotrauma Foundation.

    The Injury Prevention Strategy and its initiatives are examples of how,
working together, the Ontario government is achieving results in building a
healthier Ontario.

                              www.mhp.gov.on.ca



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                     ONTARIO'S INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGY
    

    The McGuinty government is committed to creating a healthy, active and
safe province. The Ministry of Health Promotion has been mandated to develop a
provincial injury prevention strategy.
    Ontario has a strong foundation of injury prevention, community
engagement, and mobilization efforts to build upon. The Ontario government
works everyday with public health units and many organizations to make the
province a safer place. Experts in the field of injury prevention have asked
the government to take a leadership role in developing a comprehensive
strategy.

    About The Strategy
    On August 8, 2007, the Ministry of Health Promotion launched Ontario's
Injury Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive, coordinated plan, which aims to
reduce the frequency, severity and impact of preventable injury in the
province. This strategy represents a government-wide coordinated approach to
addressing injury prevention - the first of its kind in Ontario.
    Ontario's Injury Prevention Strategy will engage and mobilize a broad
range of partners to build on the current activities carried out by public
health units, community organizations, non-governmental organizations and
government ministries - contributing to healthier communities and a healthier
province.
    Ontario's Injury Prevention Strategy utilizes a phased, multi-pronged
approach that focuses on four key strategic directions:

    
    1. Community Partnerships and Mobilization
       -  Engage communities and stakeholders through partnerships to develop
          and implement effective injury prevention initiatives.

    2. Public Education and Engagement
       -  Raise public awareness that injuries are "predictable and
          preventable" and to influence behaviour.

    3. Safe Environments
       -  Support safe environments to reduce the frequency, impacts and
          severity of injuries.

    4. Healthy Public Policy
       -  Champion injury prevention policy priorities and invest in proven
          strategies and programs.

    In 2007-08, the Ministry of Health Promotion will partner with four
organizations to broaden the scope of existing injury prevention initiatives.
    ThinkFirst will work with public health units and community sports and
recreation partners to implement the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet initiative,
which will raise awareness of the importance of wearing a helmet as well as
provide helmets to kids and youth across the province. The program will roll
out in three phases:
       -  Summer 2007, bicycle helmet fitting clinics in select communities
       -  Fall 2007, sport helmets for community recreation programs -
          helmets will be provided to partner organizations (i.e Boys and
          Girls Clubs, YMCAs, KidSport Ontario and the Ontario Cycling
          Association) for use in programs & will remain the property of
          these organizations so that many children can benefit from them
       -  In 2008, a community-based helmet voucher program which will be
          rolled out.

    Safe Kids Canada's (SKC) Ontario Children's Rural Safety Program will
raise public awareness of how to prevent farm-related injuries to children in
rural communities across the province, making Ontario the first jurisdiction
to launch a comprehensive farm safety initiative. SKC's proposed Ontario
Children's Rural Safety Program is two-pronged and includes:
       -  Expand distribution of existing NAGCAT (North American Guidelines
          for Children's Agricultural Tasks) to farming communities
       -  Raise awareness of tractor-related injuries among children through
          a poster campaign.

    Safe Communities Canada's Community-Based Injury Prevention Mobilization
initiative will expand their Safe Communities program into some communities at
higher risk of injury. Safe Communities has recommended the following model:
       -  Identify approximately five communities at higher risk of injury
       -  Collect and analyze injury data for each community
       -  Facilitate planning and implementation of the Safe Communities
          model in identified communities
       -  Recruit and train mentors from existing successful Safe Communities
          to work with new communities identified.

    The Ministry will also continue to support the Ontario Public Health
Association for their injury prevention projects. These include: the Ontario
Injury Prevention Resource Centre services provided by SMARTRISK; and, support
for public health managers overseeing the Injury Prevention Including
Substance Abuse Prevention mandatory program.

    Services of the Injury Prevention Resource Centre Include:
    -  Consultation, networking, training, information sharing, and research
       and program evaluation services to injury prevention practitioners;
    -  Strengthen public health injury prevention practitioners' capacity to
       deliver quality injury prevention programming within a population
       health promotion framework;
    -  Host a website that houses key injury prevention resources for
       Ontario's injury prevention practitioners, and;
    -  Facilitate a coordinated approach to injury prevention in Ontario by
       providing new opportunities for collaboration between regional injury
       prevention practitioner networks throughout Ontario.
    





For further information:

For further information: Adam Grachnik, Minister's Office, (416)
326-8497; Greg Flood, Communications Branch, (416) 326-4806

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ONTARIO MINISTRY OF HEALTH PROMOTION

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