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Well Living House seeks to understand healthcare gaps among Toronto’s Indigenous communities through research project

Toronto, January 12, 2017

By Kelly O’Brien

Dr. Janet Smylie
Dr. Janet Smylie

A new three-year community-driven research project will explore the social determinants of health that affect Indigenous communities in Toronto, including children and youth, homelessness, poverty, women’s issues and culture and identity.

The Well Living House Action Research Centre for Indigenous Infant, Child and Family Health and Well-Being of St. Michael’s Hospital will deliver the project in partnership with the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council.

The project aims to hear from the city’s most marginalized voices to better understand their healthcare needs and include them in delivering solutions. It will also include the perspectives of non-Indigenous stakeholders working to meet the needs of indigenous community members.

“This is an excellent opportunity to reach out to community members with unmet needs and work together to bridge those gaps,” said Dr. Janet Smylie, a family physician and director of Well Living House.

Toronto’s Indigenous communities have an estimated population between 34,000-69,000, according to the 2016 Our Health Counts Toronto Interim Analysis, and 90 per cent of Indigenous families live below the low-income cutoff.

The Well Living House, which operates within the Centre for Urban Health Solutions and is governed by a counsel of Indigenous grandparents and St. Michael’s, seeks to improve health polices, services and programs so that every Indigenous infant is born into a life that promotes health and well-being. It consists of a team of Indigenous health researchers, trainees, front-line Indigenous health practitioners and policymakers.

“These collaborations between research agencies and community organizations will invariably lead to better outcomes and culturally appropriate service delivery to one of Canada’s largest urban Indigenous populations,” she said.

The project will receive funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


This paper is an example of how St. Michael's Hospital is making Ontario Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter.

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 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 the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council

TAASC commissioned Toronto’s first comprehensive research on Aboriginal people in 2011 through the Toronto Aboriginal Research Report (TARP) in 2011. The report includes a sample size of 1424 individuals using 7 methodologies and identifies 14 research priorities and 56 recommendations.

Media contacts

For media inquiries, please contact:

Kelly O'Brien
Communications Advisor - Media, St. Michael's Hospital
416-864-5047
obrienkel@smh.ca