Making the Links

Progress on Environmental Health, Equity, and Law: Making the Links Project with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)

The first year (2009) was spent researching aggregate data from various sources to identify six Ontario communities with high pollution, chronic health problems, and significant poverty, and to discover how best to engage and empower them to take action on their concerns about their environment and health. Over the year, six communities were selected, one of which was a first nations community. Communication was initiated with these communities by a CELA lawyer and members of the Steering Committee about their environmental health concerns and important community contacts. Key contacts were made, and local action committees were formed with our support.

In 2010, the issues important to each community were clarified with the action committees, and public meetings were held in each community with speakers whose topics were geared to that community. This was followed by discussion about building on current activities and initiating new actions to address the issues of concern. Helpful tools were discussed and the project provided what was available or web-links from other sources.

In 2011, progress was made with the action committees in each community supporting successful actions, and providing tools or contacts to enable them to make new initiatives on their issues of concern. At year end, there was a meeting in each community to encourage ongoing action after this project ends. In addition, evaluation was sought for the Making the Links project.

The Steering Committee (including Lead Theresa McClenaghan and Member Dr. Lynn Marshall) met in mid-January, 2012 to chronicle what we learned from this project, and how its successes and opportunities for improvement can be applied to future projects to encourage communities to take action on environmental degradation.

Early Environmental Exposures and Chronic Disease Prevention in Ontario In 2011, the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) completed a 3-year Ontario Trillium Foundation-funded collaboration with the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA). The lead partner was the Ontario Public Health Association, a member of both CPCHE and OCDPA. Dr. Lynn Marshall represented EHI-Canada on the Steering Committee. In October, 2009, and in 2011, in addition to monthly teleconferences, a stakeholder forum was held to encourage ongoing discussion and collaboration among partners whose mutual goal was to discover how environmental health protection would help sustain child health and prevent development of chronic, environmentally-associated illnesses. Meanwhile, the evidence was being appraised by Kathleen Cooper of CELA, linking early environmental exposures with chronic disease outcomes. This culminated in a substantive review by her and three co-authors, including Dr. Lynn Marshall, Early Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals/Pollutants and Associations with Chronic Disease: A Scoping ReviewThe review was published in June 2011 by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Health Institute of Canada, and the Ontario College of Family Physicians. The report can be found at

CPCHE and its partners (including EHI-Canada) took the evidence outlined in the Scoping Review, and, in 2012, devised a health promotion plan, called Top Five Tips, Creating Healthy Home Environments for Kids, which included a brochure, plain language fact sheets, translated, not only into English and French, but six other languages. They were, and are being disseminated via insertion in Today’s Parent magazine, distribution to public health units and health practitioner offices, and a video. Dr. Marshall and Kathy Cooper served on the Video Development Committee, and both gave multiple presentations about the project.

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