Solutions for Healthy Cities Symposium marks launch of networks designed to address urban health challenges

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Solutions for Healthy Cities Symposium marks launch of networks designed to address urban health challenges

Toronto, March 9, 2020

By Jennifer Stranges

Dr. Stephen Hwang, Dr. Patricia O'Campo, John Tory and Lori E. Lightfoot.
Dr. Stephen Hwang, Dr. Patricia O'Campo, John Tory and Lori E. Lightfoot on stage at the Solutions for Healthy Cities Symposium.

Last week, St. Michael’s Hospital’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions held its two-day Solutions for Healthy Cities Symposium. The symposium marked the launch of 10 collaborative solutions networks with a common goal: to effect real-world social change by co-designing and demonstrating what works to address critical urban health challenges in our communities.

The networks, made up of more than 170 scientists, community partners, policy makers, and people with lived expertise from across the country, will result in 10 evidence-based solutions that will be tested and ready for scale-up in cities across Canada.

The symposium closed off its first day with an evening event attended by Toronto Mayor John Tory and keynote speaker Lori E. Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot acknowledged that affordable housing, community violence, poverty and homelessness are issues shared by Chicago and Toronto, and described her administration’s approach to addressing poverty.

Notable changes Lightfoot has made since becoming mayor include increasing the minimum wage and mandating that employers of a certain size provide predictive schedules for employees.

“We learned from Mayor Lightfoot that Chicago is facing many of the same challenges that Toronto is,” said Dr. Patricia O’Campo, interim Executive Director of Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, who also moderated a fireside chat with the mayors.

“Mayor Lightfoot emphasized that to get the solution ‘right,’ we have to co-design with community. This resonated as it is exactly the approach we take at MAP with our 10 solutions networks.”

Among the guests in attendance were two former premiers of Ontario, David Peterson and Kathleen Wynne, former deputy premier Deb Matthews, and former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion.

Guests also had the opportunity to learn more about each of the 10 networks. Some of the topics the networks are tackling include improving outcomes for people experiencing chronic homelessness, providing people at risk of diabetes complications with healthy food, and preventing chronic disease through smart urban design.

“The symposium was incredibly successful,” said Dr. Stephen Hwang, director of the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions.

“Over the coming months, I’m looking forward to seeing these networks implement innovative interventions that will have a major impact in creating healthy cities.”

This symposium was made possible in partnership with the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation and thanks to the generous contributions of its visionary donors.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit

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