Expanded access to healthy living programs for residents in St. James Town

Additional funding will expand the reach of current programs and include oral health.

TORONTO, April 29, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) today announced additional funding for the Healthy Living in St. James Town project, aimed at helping newcomers to Canada assess and address their risks of developing chronic diseases. The project, which now includes funding to provide oral health assessments, promotion, and fluoride treatment, was made today to mark Oral Health Month.   

For newcomers, adjusting to a new country, coupled with a lack of social support, can leave many individuals overlooking their health and well-being. Many diseases share common risk factors, and research has demonstrated that poor oral health may have a negative impact on health issues such as diabetes, and respiratory and heart diseases.

Led by Community Matters Toronto, this additional investment will expand the reach of existing Healthy Living in St. James Town's programs that provide nutrition and physical activity support to target groups, and to include new oral health promotion and prevention activities. Community Assistants will be trained and supervised by a Canadian-accredited and working dentist to help promote good oral health. Some of the new activities will include:

  • Visual mouth assessments and promotion of good oral health practices at community events; and,
  • Fluoride treatments (fluoride varnish) conducted in partnership with Toronto Public Health at the nearby Rose Avenue Public School.

This continued partnership between PHAC, Community Matters Toronto, Self-Care Catalyst, Wellesley Parliament Square Residents, Regent Park Health Centre, Wellesley Community Centre, Toronto Public Health, Rose Avenue Public School, Geoffrey H. Wood Foundation and Tom Goldspink, a private citizen, is an example of a community coming together to tackle chronic disease prevention, and to collaboratively improve the health and well-being of its residents.

Quick Facts

  • PHAC is investing an additional $265,000 in this project, which will allow Community Matters Toronto to build on the success of Healthy Living in St. James Town by expanding current programming to reach more residents and including an oral health component. This will bring the total investment to $793,665.
  • Poor oral health can impact the learning and physical development of children and may also contribute to diabetes and heart disease in adults.
  • Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in Canada. In fact, 96% of Canadians have been affected by the disease and it is also affecting disproportionally vulnerable and disadvantaged groups across the country.
  • St. James Town is a one square kilometre neighbourhood in Toronto of approximately 30,000 residents, with a large proportion of them being newcomers to Canada.
  • The project activities focus primarily on the South Asian and African populations, who are twice as likely to have diabetes and hypertension compared to established Canadians. The initiative is implemented by specially trained Community Assistants identified from within the community with backgrounds in medical practice, nursing, social work and dentistry. They encourage and assist residents to increase their knowledge of risk factors for chronic diseases and reduce their potential risks through screening using the PHAC-developed CANRISK and Health Passport Assessment tool, attending nutrition workshops, as well as exercise programs designed for the community.
  • This is one of many partnerships under the Government of Canada's Multi-Sectoral Partnership Approach to Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, which invests approximately $20 million per year in projects that focus on addressing common risk factors, such as unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, and smoking, to prevent chronic disease.


"Good oral health is important to our overall health and well-being. As someone who is always enthusiastic about population health, I'm pleased this partnership with Community Matters Toronto will help newcomers to Canada get the services and support they need."  
The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

"We are particularly excited about the additional support we are receiving from the Public Agency of Canada. It allows us to return much needed oral health services including prevention activities and workshops to our community. Direct access to information and services in a culturally appropriate environment is a major contributor in mitigating the health risks newcomers face in particular regarding diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."
Margaret Coshan
Community Matters Toronto

Associated Links

Public Health Agency of Canada
Community Matters Toronto
Ministerial Statement – Oral Health Month  


SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information: Public Inquiries: 613-957-2991, 1-866-225-0709; Public Health Agency of Canada, Media Relations, (613) 957-2983


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