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Centre for Urban Health Initiatives
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Public Policy/ Mental Health/ Health Promotion

Photo contributed by Alexis Kane Speer
Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support project


Project Descriptions

  1. Bridging the Gap: Good Governance for Local Environmental & Health Decision Making
  2. Social Research and Public Policy: Emerging Frameworks for Community Engagement and Policy Response 
  3. Older Women’s Perceptions and Experiences of and Responses to Abuse/Violence in the Post-Migration Context


  • Mark Asbridge, Mark (Centre for Clinical Research, Public Health, Dalhousie University)
  • Sylvia Bashevkin (University College, University of Toronto
  • Jennifer Butters (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Sociology, University of Toronto)
  • Patricia Erickson (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Sociology & Criminology, University of Toronto)
  • Sarah Flicker (Environmental Studies, York University)
  • Sepali Guruge (School of Nursing, Ryerson University)
  • Nick Holt (Physical Education and Health, University of Alberta)
  • Michaela Hynie (Psychology, York University)
  • Suzanne Jackson (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto)
  • Margot Lettner (Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University)
  • Dennis Magill (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto)
  • John Myles (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto)
  • Cory Neudorf (Saskatoon Health Region; University of Saskatoon)
  • David Noble (2DegreesC)
  • Ito Peng (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto)
  • Brenda Ross (Centre for Urban Health Initiatives, University of Toronto)
  • Izumi Sakamoto (Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto)
  • Laura Simich (Centre for Addiction & Mental Health; Psychiatry, University of Toronto)
  • Mark Stabile (School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto)

Project Descriptions

1. Bridging the Gap: Good Governance for Local Environmental & Health Decision Making

Principal Investigator(s):
Dr. Cory Neudorf (Saskatoon Health Region)

Lead Community and/or Policy Partners:
2DegreesC; Roadmap 2020: Working for a Sustainable Saskatoon; City of Saskatoon

Public Health has an important role in ensuring that municipalities account for public health implications in their decision-making. However, in part due to the (re-) organization of public health services through regional health authorities across much of the country, Public Health has a weakened ability to fulfill this role. There is no systematic way to ensure public health implications are considered in municipal decision-making. This is true in respect to many health issues, but is especially hit and miss in respect to policy decisions that have environmental impacts. This research will examine the institutional context for environment and health decision-making at the local level, including the challenges to effective public health participation in decision-making, and means and practices for improving public health engagement. The results will be widely relevant, since nearly all public health systems face this challenge. The insights gained will be relevant to health promotion more generally, and hence can be applied in respect to a range of important urban health issues.

Good Governance PowerPoint Presentation

Good Governance Seminar Presentation Notes

2. Social Research and Public Policy: Emerging Frameworks for Community Engagement and Policy Response   

Principal Investigator(s): 
Dr. Ito Peng (Dept of Sociology, University of Toronto) and Margot Lettner (Dept of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University)  

Lead Community and/or Policy Partner:
We do not have formal links with particular community organizations right now, but we have contacted the AIDS and homeless communities with an aim to establish partnerships.

This study will examine how community groups lobby for and engage with policy makers to press for policy changes. We examine and compare two health care sectors - the AIDS and homeless communities - and ask the following four questions.

  1. How have the AIDS and homeless communities in Toronto engaged in the public policy process to define their issues, raise awareness of their agenda, and advocate for and achieve change?
  2. How do the engagement and advocacy strategies/experiences of the AIDS and homeless communities compare?
  3. What do these experiences suggest about how public policymakers have responded to the advocacy strategies of both communities and why?
  4. What further research on the translation of evidence-based research into the development and implementation of public policy does this study suggest

3. Older Women’s Perceptions and Experiences of and Responses to Abuse/Violence in the Post-Migration Context

Principal Investigator(s):

Dr. Sepali Guruge (School of Nursing, Ryerson University)

Lead Community Partner:

Vasantham Tamil Seniors’ Wellness Centre

Violence against women occurs in every community and society, and takes many forms. According to Statistics Canada reports on victims of violence, while both older and younger victims are more likely to be abused by someone known to them, nearly half of older victims were abused by a family member, including their current/previous intimate partner. In the post-migration context, older immigrant women also face other forms of violence that arise out of racism and ageism in society at large. Literature on this topic is limited. 

In this pilot study we will explore the topic of abuse/violence among older immigrant women from one immigrant community in Toronto. Our objective is to understand the perceptions of abuse/violence, its risk and protective factors that shape older Tamil women’s experiences of and responses to VAW in the post-migration context, and the resources they require to respond to VAW in a manner that is most appropriate for them. The need for the study arises out of a) the concerns of our community partners; b) the findings of our previous research, and health and settlement work; and c) results of a preliminary literature search.

This qualitative study will be informed by a social determinants of health approach and a feminist theoretical perspective. Such an approach facilitates a gender- and diversity-based analysis of a broad range of factors that affect the health of women (Varcoe).

We will conduct 10 to 12 in-depth individual interviews using a combination of unstructured to structured, and open-ended to close-ended questions to allow maximum flexibility in exploring the topic in-depth. Following the completion and analysis of the individual interviews we will organize 2 focus groups (each consisting of 5 to 8 women) to generate further information from a diverse group of women and to obtain their responses and reactions to the emerging ideas. The interviews and focus groups will be conducted in Tamil and/or English at various community locations that are safe and convenient to the participants.

Interviews and focus group discussions will be translated and transcribed for analysis. Transcripts will be read by each team member individually to develop codes. At regular team meetings, codes will be compared, discussed, and consensus reached about the emerging coding scheme. The subcategories already developed will be compared with the new codes to determine commonalities and variations, and collapsed and condensed to develop categories. Gaps in emerging relationships will be addressed in subsequent interviews and/or focus groups.

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