October 18, 2018
“Vote for Health” Municipal Election Survey Results
Municipal governments and elected representatives can shape the health of communities through the design and delivery of local policies, programs, and services. The Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) and the Windsor Essex County Health Unit’s (WECHU) Strategic Plan both include a focus on developing, supporting, and participating in local healthy public policy. The Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) specify that Public Health Units (PHUs) are to share healthy public policy recommendations, and participate with stakeholders in the development of public policy that reduces barriers to positive health outcomes. The OPHS also specifies that PHUs are to use data to influence and inform the development of local healthy public policies.
On September 5th, the WECHU launched a voluntary survey distributed to all local council and mayoral candidates running in the upcoming 2018 municipal election. The survey asked candidates how they would prioritize their efforts based on seven local public health priority areas. The priority areas were identified based on local data, results from the WECHU’s 2016 Community Needs Assessment, and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies’ (alPHa) Municipal Election Policy Priorities document. The results of the survey were posted on the WECHU’s website on October 5th.
Candidates were asked how they would spend $100 on the local public health issues. In total, 50% (87) of the candidates completed the survey. They were told that their answers should reflect the amount of time and resources they would give to each public health issue. All candidates that completed the survey said that they would allocate resources towards mental illness. On average, candidates provided 25% ($25.49) of their resources to mental health in the community. The second highest allocation (16%; $16.21) was towards substance misuse in the community.
When candidates gave resources to one of the local public health issues, they were then able to select actions they might take. The actions provided were evidence-supported ways to address the local public health issues.
- Mental illness had the most frequently selected actions – 89% of candidates said they would advocate for funding for low-or no-cost mental health care to increase local access to treatment; and 87% would support training for first responders and front-line service providers to help people living with mental illness.
- Food insecurity had the third most frequently selected action – 84% of candidates said that they would support local programs, such as farmer’s markets, community gardens, and community kitchens.
- Putting fluoride into community water was the least selected action by respondents, with 8% of supporting this action.
- Substance misuse had the second and third least frequently selected actions – 28% of respondents supported local efforts to investigate the feasibility of safe injection sites; and 38% supported increasing the availability of naloxone and needle disposal bins in the community.
The results from this survey were posted on the WECHU’s website to provide information to the public about municipal candidate stances on healthy public policy issues. The results from the survey will also be used to inform future planning and program development within the WECHU. In 2019 the WECHU will provide an opportunity to all elected municipal officials to meet with the organizations CEO to discuss local healthy public policy issues.
The following individuals contributed to this report:
- Kristy McBeth, Director, Knowledge Management Division
- Marc Frey, Manager, Planning & Strategic Initiatives Department
Theresa Marentette, CEO