Algoma Public Health

2018 - Report to the community

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Read the pdf version of the 2018 report to the community.

Message from: Board Chair & Medical Officer Of Health/CEO

In 2018, Algoma Public Health (APH) celebrated 50 years of providing public health services to the district of Algoma. During this time, APH has worked to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. To celebrate this milestone, we held free events throughout the Algoma district. From free skating at local arenas, to walking clubs, movie nights, cross country skiing, curling and yoga in the park, we gave back to you, the public. 

We were happy to bring Gil Penalosa to our region who spoke to staff and our community partners and key stakeholders on how to create healthy communities where all people can live happier, regardless of age, gender, ability, or socio-economic or ethnic status. 

We also awarded our first annual Public Health Champion award to André Riopel who has passionately has advocated for safe and active transportation. On our official anniversary - November 28, 2018 - we brought together all our staff to celebrate the important work of public health throughout our region.

This report to the community gives you some highlights of 2018.

Ian Frazier 

Chair, Board of Health

Dr. Marlene Spruyt
Medical Officer of Health/CEO 

Community Health Profile

In Fall of 2018, we released a new report highlighting the health status of Algoma. The report was publicly launched with community partners and key stakeholders in Blind River, Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie. A snapshot of health here in Algoma, the Community Health Profile helps us to identify key health issues across the district and describe who is most affected in our population. 

The report includes information on life expectancy, maternal health, injuries, child and youth health, infectious disease, substance use and mental health and chronic disease. 

Gil Penalosa 

Algoma’s Community Health Profile highlights both public health successes that we can celebrate, and priority health concerns that our communities need to focus on.

We were happy to bring Gil Penalosa to the Algoma district as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations. Gil Penalosa is the founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, a Canadian nonprofit with a mission to improve sustainable mobility, parks, and public spaces to transform urban areas into cities that are great for both 8-year-olds and 80-year olds. Penalosa gave a key note address to Algoma Public staff but also spoke to community and key stakeholdres in Elliot Lake and Sault Ste. Marie.

Gil's message was based on a simple “8 80” rule: ensuring the safety and joy of children and older adults (from 8 year olds to 80 year olds) are at the forefront of our decision-making and can improve the quality of life for all community members, regardless of economic, social or cultural background. 

Get Active Algoma

Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a big part of public health. To engage the Algoma district in a healthier lifestyle, we ran a 2-month long Get Active Algoma contest.


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to a happy life. The goal of the contest encouraged people to get together, spend quality time with friends/family and have a balanced day that is not filled with screen time. Missions ranged from completing physical activities to cooking a healthy meal. All the missions in the game were designed keeping in mind the vast demographic Algoma has to offer. 


Team 'TammyMya' were the winners of #GetActiveAlgoma. 

Public Health Champion

As part of our 50th anniversary event on November 28th, we awarded our first annual Public Health Champion award.The award is provided to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to population health in the Algoma district. Their passion is rooted in helping their community live a healthier life, regardless of age, income and socio-economic background.

Our Board of Health was happy to present our first award to André Riopel.

“When you hear Andre’s name in the community, it is often attached to cycling. He has passionately advocated for safe and active transportation,” said Ian Frazier, chair for the board of health. “He regularly promotes creating low or no cost opportunities for people to be active no matter where they live or work.” 

He is also well aware of chronic disease and poor health outcomes when people are not physically active. He is all about creating a community supporting opportunity for people to stay active and be safe.

André is one of the original members of the Sault Trails Advocacy Committee (STAC) that advocated for and worked with numerous partners to get the John Rowswell Hub Trail built. He was also instrumental in the Pump Track at Esposito Park.

André has also worked on the Sault Ste. Marie cycling master plan, signage along the Lake Huron North Channel cycle route and helped to create a plan for Mountain Bike Trail development. 

Healthier snack options at community centres 


Algoma Public Health partnered with The Healthy Kids Community Challenge Sault Ste. Marie and the City of Sault Ste. Marie to add healthier items to the concession menus at the John Rhodes Community Centre and GFL Memorial Gardens.

In the fall of 2018, a consumer survey was conducted to see what items people preferred and other items they would like to see added to continue moving forward with this initiative.

Some of the feedback included fresh fruit and veggie cups, soup of the day, cheese and crackers, plain popcorn, fruit smoothies and juice.

Community centres in Elliot Lake and Blind River have also started to add healthier menu items at their arena concessions.

Expanding the menu items at these facilities offers more choice for individuals and families who visit these locations. Offering healthy choices in this setting makes sense, since they already support physical activity and active lifestyles.

Public Health Dietitians support this work by consulting on menu development, promotional strategies, training and evaluation. 

Opioid Poisonings 

Why is this an important public health issue?

Nationwide our country continues to be in an opioid poisoning crisis. The Algoma district is not immune to this ongoing issue.

In 2017, there were 22 opioid-related deaths in Algoma. That translates to 19.1 deaths for every 100,000 people - more than double the Ontario rate of 8.7.

The stigma that people with substance use disorders face is one of the biggest barriers to seeking treatment and support. Addressing that stigma, and providing advocacy and education to everyone in our community is an important part of our work.

In 2018, much of our work included breaking down the barriers that exist. A media campaign was launched to combat the stigma associated with substance use.

Algoma Public Health also worked closely with first responders to create a local surveillance system for opioid-related harms, and collaborated with community partnes to expand access to naloxone. 

Public Health by the numbers:


7,230 dental screenings in Elementary schools and Daycares
3,135 students immunized at school clinics
83% of mothers initiated breastfeeding

608 food handlers certified

1,170 food premises inspected

161 pools & spas inspected
39 inspections at public venues to ensure safe drinking water
211 inspections of personal service settings

2018 Funding


Sources of Funding


Municipal Levies (District of Algoma)

$3, 502,000

Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care

$10, 718,000

North East Local Health Integration Network

$4, 158,000

Ministry of Children & Youth Services

$2, 375,000

Community Partners, Fees and Recoveries

$2, 022,000