Carolyn Webber, manager of the Pre-Primary and Early Years Program, spoke about the program during the launch of the collaborative community health plan at East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy.

ANTIGONISH: The plan is out in the community.

The Antigonish and County Community Health Board, the Strait Richmond Community Health Board, and the Guysborough Community Health Board unveiled their Collaborative Community Health Plan last week at East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy.

The plan lists poverty, early childhood development, food security, and social inclusion as four priority topics for community health. The plan also lists potential partners to assist in getting the plan off the ground and the roles of the community health boards.

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Philip Girvan, chair of the Antigonish and County Community Health Board, said the boards were formerly under the former Guysborough-Antigonish-Strait Health Authority when work on the plan began.

“Poverty is a huge deal here,” said Girvan. “There’s 15 to 20 per cent of our population that live in very, very difficult circumstances, so that was a no-brainer and that drives a number of the other priorities too. Food security was raised all the time. Early childhood development [came up at] pretty much every consultation as well.”

Girvan said social inclusion has become more meaningful to him as he explores the issue and is as significant as the other items.

A release from the Nova Scotia Health Authority stated the local health boards will be holding several events throughout the next several weeks and months to promote the plan and develop stronger partnerships within their individual communities. The boards are also looking to meet with local municipal councils.

“One thing we want to do is we want to take stock of what’s already happening so the municipalities will be able to give us a perspective that we don’t necessarily have,” Girvan said. “This thing can’t work without strong collaboration between the community organizations, your non-profits as well as government, and of course, the health authority. Without these partnerships, today being the first step, it’s not going to work.”

The Antigonish Town and County Health Board is hosting a community health board open house on Tuesday, October 17 from 4-7 p.m. at the Antigonish Public Library’s Community Room.

“We’re very happy with the plan that’s presented,” said Heather Hanson, chief of public engagement and communications with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “The plan has been released today and then they’ll continue to work in the community and we’ll continue to work alongside them as well.”