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Archived - Minister Oliver announces investment in a community-based chronic disease prevention initiative for St. James Town

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A diverse partnership designed to improve the health and well-being of residents

Today, the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance announced on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, an investment aimed at helping newcomers to Canada assess and address their risks of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Healthy Living in St. James Town will focus on residents in the St. James Town neighbourhood of Toronto, and will help strengthen their social networks, and improve access to programming that incorporates healthy living and chronic disease prevention activities into the residents’ daily lives. The goal is to improve knowledge of chronic disease risk factors such as unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and smoking, and to reduce those potential risks with the help of Community Assistants and health assessment tools like the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire (CANRISK) and the Health Passport Assessment Tool. By using these tools, and creating their own online profiles, residents in St. James Town can access Self-Care Catalysts’ Patient Storylines, a mobile and web-based patient platform that can be used on a phone, laptop or desktop computer. Patient Storylines lets residents proactively take control of their health by helping them set and achieve health goals, connect with support networks and find information about health services, and other programs and services in the community.

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

Quick Facts

  • This is one of many partnerships made 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.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is investing $528,665 over five years for this initiative.
  • Funding is being matched by partners for a total investment of $1,057,330.
  • Three in five Canadians have a chronic disease, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
  • Many chronic diseases are preventable through regular physical activity and healthy eating, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • St. James Town is a one square kilometre neighbourhood in Toronto of 30,000 residents with a large proportion of them being newcomers to Canada.


“For newcomers to our country, it can be difficult to access information and services that could assist in reducing known risk factors for chronic diseases, like Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. I am so pleased to be working with Community Matters Toronto to build on the excellent range of services and programs that they have been providing to the residents of St. James Town for over ten years.

The Honourable Joe Oliver
Minister of Finance

“The Healthy Immigrant Effect report shows that new Canadians are healthier than established Canadians when they arrive. Within five years however, their health declines quickly. Reasons may be the adoption of less healthy practices, the stress of settling in a new country, retraining, learning a new language, and the loss of friends and family networks. Additionally new Canadians have the lowest rates of screening for cervical and breast cancer in the Greater Toronto Area and this is where Community Matters comes in. This grant centres on training Community Assistants and utilizing Foreign Trained Health professionals who can help us identify those at risk and screen them. We also encourage positive cultural health practices and pinpoint what can be maintained, applied and integrated into Canadian society.”

Margaret Coshan
Community Matters Toronto


Caption: The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance, on behalf of Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health announced an important investment in a community-based chronic disease prevention initiative for Toronto's St. James Town. (L to R: Surabhi Khare, Resident and Community Assistant in charge of Healthy Living in St. James Town Project; Margaret Coshan, Executive Director Community Matters Toronto; The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance; Dr. Sandy MacPherson, Former Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto); and Grace Soyao, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Self-Care Catalysts.

Caption: The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance, announces a community-based chronic disease prevention initiative for St. James Town.


Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983

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