Response, management and recovery of COVID-19: Reimagining and rebuilding healthy built and social environments of community health in Canada 

Talk Tuesday - September 15, 2020

Presenter

Pepper Pritty RN OHN MNRM
COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Manitoba Association of Community Health & Occupational Health Nurse, Manitoba Federation of Labour, Occupational Health Centre

Pepper Pritty is the COVID-19 response coordinator for the Manitoba Association of Community Health, an occupational health nurse with the Manitoba Federation of Labour, Occupational Health Centre, and completing a PhD in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba. Prior to this, Pepper was a provincial public health practice consultant to the Manitoba Ministry working in the former Office of the Chief Public Health Officer where she provided policy and practice support for the public health workforce (over 400 public health nurses, over 50 public health inspectors, over 25 medical officers of health).

Pepper’s research expertise is in environmental health, and in 2017 she was appointed the healthy built and social environment lead for the provincee where she chaired a network that comprised all five regional health authorities, multiple departments in the provincial government (such as Sustainable Development, Municipal Relations and Department of Environmental Health) and multiple federal stakeholders including Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, National Collaborating Centre of Environment and Health, and non-profit organizations such as the Green Action Centre and Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective.
 
Her current research RANCH COVID-19 (Research of All Nations Community Health- COVID-19) aims to explore and document the community health response, management and recovery of the pandemic in Canada. This is a partnership with the All Nations Institute of Environment and Health, the Women’s Health Clinic, Manitoba Association of Community Health and several First Nation communities in Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. This research aims to create a narrative of community health from the voices and perspectives of the community health workforce and to document how the built and social environments in Canada either facilitated or obstructed community health to adequately respond to the pandemic.

 

Summary

The planning and design of modern communities have evolved and advanced over time, and over the course of history, many of these advancements have been spearheaded as a result of public health disasters that required change to the built environment. As with any disaster, the hardest hit populations are typically those already struggling with pre-existing health and social disparities and limited economic resources. Manitoba however, has some of the highest rates of poverty, reports of socialized racism and poorest health outcomes in the country; yet during the first wave of COVID-19, Manitoba reported some of the lowest rates of documented infection per capita of the Canadian provinces (Winnipeg Free Press, 2020). Media attention primarily focused on the regional and provincial health efforts to contain the virus; however, failed to adequately acknowledge the influence and impact of the response and management of the community health sector. This presentation will discuss the Research of All Nations Community Health, COVID-19 (RANCH-COVID-19) project that has answered a call from community health to undertake the assessment and evaluation of the pandemic on community health agencies, workforce and vulnerable populations in Canada.