McGuinty Government Working To Reduce Injury In Ontario

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

    TORONTO, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - Three hundred free bicycle and multi-purpose
helmets are being provided to community centres, Boys and Girls Clubs and
KidSport chapters across the GTA to help build helmet safety awareness as part
of the McGuinty government's Injury Prevention Strategy, Health Promotion
Minister Jim Watson and Parliamentary Assistant Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP
Etobicoke North, announced today.
    "As a doctor, I'm no stranger to the frequency with which preventable
injuries end up needing hospital care or result in permanent injury or death,"
said Qaadri. "That's why I'm pleased that, as part of Ontario's Injury
Prevention Strategy, our government is helping kids learn about the importance
of wearing a helmet and playing safe while enjoying sports."
    Minister Watson and MPP Qaadri made the announcement at a sport helmet
safety event this morning in Etobicoke. They also unveiled public education
posters that will be distributed throughout the province with the tagline:
"Buckle Your Bucket."
    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.
    As part of the Injury Prevention Strategy, the McGuinty government is
providing funding to ThinkFirst Canada, an organization dedicated to
preventing brain and spinal cord injury through education. These funds will be
used to implement the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet program, which will enhance
helmet safety awareness by providing free helmets to children and youth in
Ontario from low-income families.
    "Injuries are one of the most pervasive yet preventable health challenges
facing this province and all Ontarians are at risk," said Minister 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 sports and
recreational activities."
    "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 out the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet program 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 Injury Prevention Strategy, which also includes:

    -  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, in partnership
       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.
    For more information about the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet Initiative
please contact ThinkFirst Canada - visit




    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

    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

    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

    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; Julie Rosenberg, Communications Branch, (416) 326-4833

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