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Facing Racial Inequities at HPEPH

Race is a key component of Culture and Ethnicity, one of sixteen social determinants of health (SDOH) recognized at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

What is racism?                                                                                                         

Race is an idea created by humans, that has no basis in biology. Racism and its effects go far beyond individual acts of discrimination. Its most broad effects are systemic and often invisible to those who do not experience it first-hand.

It is a common misconception that only Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour are affected by racism. These groups experience the negative effects of racism. However, we are all affected by racism. For example, white North Americans often unknowingly uphold systems of racism that serve to benefit their own race. We all have a role to play to look inwards and reflect on how we can become more anti-racist and reject racist systems.

What has racism got to do with public health?

Racism leads to health inequities which are unfair, avoidable, and systematic differences in health outcomes. Our role at HPEPH is to identify and act to reduce these inequities. This is important to reach our vision of healthy people, healthy communities.

What is HPEPH doing to address health inequities resulting from racism in our communities?

Each Ontario health unit is accountable to the Ontario Public Health Standards. One of these standards is focused on health equity. It is our responsibility to enhance capacity to apply anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and culturally safe approaches to public health practice.

Here is what HPEPH is doing to address racial inequities in our communities:

  1. Member of the Belleville Inclusion Committee, which advocates for the City of Belleville to be welcoming through the Coalition for Inclusive Municipalities.
  2. Devoting a full-time public health nurse to the social determinants of health and health equity, including racism.
  3. Enabling staff to participate in Indigenous Cultural Safety training. One example is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise undertaken by the Board of Health and select staff as a tool to learn about the history of colonialism and Indigenous people across what we now call Canada. 
  4. Providing evidence to municipal leaders and decision makers about the unintended health equity impacts of various policies and by-laws.
  5. Completing a collaborative study on how to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous peoples who are friends and neighbours of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. This is expected to continue as we work to develop a land acknowledgment that is meaningful and respectful.

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We are gradually resuming in-person services at HPEPH by appointment only at this time.  Please review our Service Interruptions page for more information.

All program lines and the COVID-19 information line operate Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (excluding statutory holidays).

To assist us with our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we ask anyone visiting the office for an appointment to:

  • bring a non-medical mask, physical distancing may not be possible during your appointment
  • maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres, both inside and outside the office
  • review symptoms of COVID-19, and reschedule your appointment if you have symptoms of the virus, or any other illness
  • reschedule your appointment if a family member or other close contact is ill
  • use accessible buttons to open doors, instead of handles
  • use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the building

We have made additional changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are visiting our office for an appointment, you can be confident that we are:

  • increasing our cleaning, in alignment with heightened infection control protocols
  • considering alternatives to in-person appointments and meetings when possible
  • screening staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19
  • offering in-person services by appointment only to reduce traffic in office
  • ensuring staff wear masks and/or other protective equipment when seeing clients

Please continue to our website for more information about our programs and services.