Co-RIG Blog – Dr. Gary Bloch

Building Community Capacity to address the COVID Social Pandemic: Primary care and community partnerships in advocacy.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Impact Grant (Co-RIG) Program – Phase II focuses on innovations and initiatives that prepare family physicians and their interprofessional teams to cope with challenges related to the pandemic and its longer-term impact.

Today we are highlighting the Advocacy and Community Engagement with Primary Health Care (ACE-PHC) project. A national team of experts in community partnership, advocacy, community-engaged research, and lived experience, coordinated by project lead Dr. Gary Bloch, ACE-PHC seeks to build partnerships between community-led projects and primary health care professionals. These partnerships will support social system and policy-focused advocacy to address the structural inequalities that allow the COVID-19 pandemic to disproportionately impact socially marginalized groups. This unique project is supporting partnerships in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Collaboration with the partnering organizations will develop tailored advocacy programs that were impacted by COVID-19.

In Ontario, the ACE-PHC team is collaborating with the Workers’ Action Centre, the Decent Work and Health Network, and community leaders from the West Scarborough neighbourhood to build community capacity for advocacy. This advocacy is focused on      workers impacted by precarious employment, low wages, and lack of entitlements such as paid sick days.

In British Columbia, the team is supporting a partnership between the First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society and the Basics for Health Society. This partnership will build advocacy for reducing inequities for women, youth, and children who face social marginalization due to income, employment, housing, and other social pressures.

In Alberta, the ACE-PHC team is strengthening advocacy collaborations between health providers and people who use substances. They are collaborating with the Alberta Alliance Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly to develop  advocacy initiatives driven by the specific experiences of substance users. Their goal is to strengthen these individuals’ ability to advocate for social change to reduce harm from the social marginalization of people who use substances.      

“If medicine is to fulfil her great task, then she must enter the political and social life. Do we not always find the diseases of the populace traceable to defects in society?” – Dr. Rudolph Virchow