The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a harsh spotlight on the gaps in our society and how we respond to and treat the needs of our most vulnerable.
Across Ontario at this very moment, we’re experiencing a housing crisis. From low-income seniors to those experiencing homelessness, people across our province are desperately looking for a place to call home.
At St. Joseph’s Health Centre, we’ve seen firsthand the struggles people in the City of Greater Sudbury are facing and the need for supportive housing.
Health and housing go hand in hand, and when we do not have adequate housing options for those who need it most, our hospitals and long-term care homes become overwhelmed. With the second wave of COVID-19, the cold weather, and flu season now upon us, our hospital emergency rooms and long-term care homes will only continue to be put under pressure.
The good news is that we have the opportunity to change this before it’s too late. Through a “housing-first” lens, Ontario can become a leader in Canada on collaborative and innovative housing models and offer people the support they need to ensure dignity at each stage of their life.
On the frontlines, we know that stable and accessible housing is a clear solution to many of the problems arising in Ontario, which have been exacerbated by COVID 19.
By recognizing the clear link between housing and health and leaning in to build a range of affordable and supportive housing, Ontario can seize this moment to develop a range of housing options. Together, this would be one of the most impactful ways we can improve the care and quality of life for countless people in this province.
Putting housing at the centre of our COVID-19 response also means we can help people grow up and grow old where they want – in their own homes. Through a housing-first lens, Ontario can provide individuals and families with access to the support they need at each stage of their life, such as providing elderly patients with an accessible and safe home or home-like setting to help them age with dignity. Investing and removing barriers to community-based support gives us an opportunity to provide care faster and often more effectively to patients, save taxpayers money, and reduce hallway health care.
We’ve learned from the pandemic that we need proven solutions today that help our most vulnerable communities recover and access quality services. COVID-19 has also taught us that our hospitals must always be prepared for a surge at any time.
Housing supports are shown time and time again to improve health outcomes, reduce reliance on health-care services, and improve patient satisfaction. When people are able to access housing and health care that meets their needs in the appropriate settings, the system is able to flow better and capacity can be maintained in hospitals for those who need it most.
Now is the time for the province to reimagine what is possible and lead the development of a range of housing options and remove barriers to community-based support.
For the last two decades, St. Joseph’s Health Centre has aimed to deliver care where the need is greatest, in the City of Greater Sudbury. Today one of the most urgent priorities is making sure everyone has the type of housing and support they need to thrive.
Visit www.puthousingfirst.ca to learn more as well all have a responsibility to ensure its most vulnerable are supported to maintain a high-quality life, and with the solutions, we can make that a reality.Jo-Anne Palkovits
President and CEO
St. Joseph’s Health Centre