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Local health and social service providers shine at first-ever Newcomer Health Fair

November 14, 2014

Good health. It’s a universal human concern.
 We mostly take it for granted, except when we don’t have it.

New immigrants, though, rarely take good health for granted. It takes a long time to learn about and navigate our complex healthcare system, and in that time anything could happen. Health issues are even more top-of-mind for those whose status is temporary or precarious, given that many service providers are not required or able to provide services to that population (some service providers may also not understand what various statuses are entitled to in terms of healthcare). Add in possible language barriers and difficulties in accessing interpretation services, as well as the stresses and challenges of being a newcomer searching for adequate housing and employment, and the healthcare picture becomes even more complex and challenging.

So major praise should be heaped on the organizers of the Newcomer Health Fair (NHF), held on October 25, 2014 at Shelldale Centre and open to people with diverse backgrounds and statuses. They represented several organizations: Guelph Community Health Centre, Growing Community Health, ARCH (HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health), Immigrant Services Guelph Wellington, and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.

The air in the Shelldale gym buzzed with excitement, as if everyone in attendance knew how significant the event was ─ the NHF was the first of its kind in Guelph and Wellington ─ and how much work it took to pull together over 30 amazing services, including an occupational health clinic that operated during the fair. There was much to learn, even for those who had lived in this community for years.

“The objective for the Health Fair was twofold,” says Samantha Blostein, one of the organizers. “We wanted newcomers to feel that there was special attention in the community being given to their unique needs. We also hoped that the health fair would draw service providers’ attention to the needs of newcomers and ways in which they may be addressed. We wanted to provide a welcoming, public platform to engage in this dialogue.”

Needless to say, the Guelph Wellington Local Immigration Partnership was honoured to have a booth at the fair (though it does not provide direct services to immigrants), and to connect with local service providers and newcomers. One of the GWLIP’s main priorities is to partner with organizations and community members  on improving access to services for those born outside of Canada and now living in Guelph Wellington. The NHF was a brilliant example of a community event that reflected this goal as it provided a platform for local health and social service providers to connect with newcomers and with other service providers. Awareness is one key to better access.

There were many hidden gems to discover at the NHF, as well as better known services. Below are listed most of the service providers who were present at the fair, along with a phone number or email/website (and a brief description if the name of the organization doesn’t indicate what it does). Please contact them for more information, and keep in mind that many of them were open to serving permanent residents, new citizens, migrant workers, refugees and refugee claimants, people with temporary visas, and others.

  • Applied Biomechanics, 519-836-4755: Custom orthotic services
  • Canadian Cancer Society, 519-824-4261
  • Canadian Mental Health Association & Here 24/7, 1-844-237-3247
  • County of Wellington Housing Services, 1-800-663-0750, 519-824-7822
  • Family Midwifery Care, 519-763-8568
  • Fuerza Puwersa, Grassroots group dedicated to exposing injustices faced by migrants of all statuses
  • Growing Community Health, 1-866-443-1055: OPIRG-Guelph working group whose purpose is to connect immigrants, refugees, migrant workers, and other statuses to community resources that address their immediate health concerns, and to promote public awareness about the challenges and exclusion faced by these groups
  • Guelph Community Acupuncture, 519-829-3000
  • Guelph Community Health Centre, 519-821-6638
  • Guelph Family Health Team, 519-837-4444: Brings together many health care providers to co-ordinate the highest possible quality of care
  • Guelph Food Bank, 519-767-1380
  • Guelph Wellington Local Immigration Partnership, 519-822-1260, ext. 2634
  • Guelph-Wellington Care & Treatment Centre for Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence, Guelph General Hospital, 519-837-6440, ext. 2728
  • Health and Performance Centre, 519-767-5011
  • HIV/AIDs Resources & Community Health (ARCH), 519-763-2255
  • Immigrant Services Guelph Wellington, 519-836-2222
  • Lutherwood Employment Services, 519-822-4141
  • Ministry of Labour—Ruhi Sharma, Program Specialist, Vulnerable Worker Information Management and Analysis Unit, Occupational Health and Safety Branch, 1-800-268-8013
  • Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre, 519-827-0040
  • OCASI Positive Spaces Initiative, Promoting welcoming and culturally inclusive environments for newcomers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and more
  • Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, 1-877-817-0336
  • Ontario Early Years Centre, 519-821-6638 ext. 382
  • Sanguen Health Centre, 1-877-351-9857: Provides treatment for people living with Hepatitis B and C
  • St. George’s Centre for Adult ESL (English as a Second Language), 519-766-9551
  • University of Guelph Wellness Education Centre & Student Health Services, 519-824-4120, ext. 53327
  • Victim Services Wellington, 519-824-1212, ext. 7304
  • Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre, 310-2222 (no area code): Providing healthcare at home, adult mental health services, pediatric and school health support services, and more
  • Waterloo Wellington HealthLine, Quick and easy access to listings of health and community services, and more
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, 1-800-265-7293: Dental care for children and youth; Sexual Health Services; Healthy Babies Healthy Children; and more

Let’s hope that the Newcomer Health Fair will become an annual fixture in Guelph Wellington.

Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership

Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership