Toronto Board of Health announces 2017 Public Health Champion Award winners
The Board of Health is proud to present the Public Health Champion Awards to Walter Cavalieri and the Toronto Distress Centre. These awards recognize achievements by individuals and organizations working to improve the health and well-being of Toronto residents.
"The Public Health Champion Awards acknowledge the incredible contributions that both individuals and groups make to improve the lives of the people of this city and to build a city we can continue to be proud of," said Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul's), Chair of the Board of Health. "I am thrilled to recognize these two wonderful recipients and their public health contributions and legacy in Toronto."
Cavalieri has been a pioneer in the area of harm reduction for the past 30 years. As the founder and director of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, his efforts to reduce the social, health and economic harms for those who use drugs has had a profound impact in our communities. In the 1990s, Cavalieri was instrumental in launching the first needle exchange in Toronto. This work has helped reduce the number of overdose deaths and reduce HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C transmission. Cavalieri was also instrumental in spearheading "Reciprocal Learning,” a program that recognizes that users are experts and can teach those who deliver health care, social programs and drug policy. Cavalieri's activism and insights have helped shape the development of local and national public health policy to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized individuals in our communities.
The Toronto Distress Centre is part of the oldest suicide prevention agency in Canada. Founded in 1967, its dedicated team of volunteers has provided telephone-based crisis intervention support to vulnerable and at-risk individuals for 50 years. The Centre receives more than 120,000 calls a year and offers a variety of services including a 24/7 hotline, support for individuals and families affected by homicide and suicide, and programming for isolated and marginalized individuals, particularly seniors. The Toronto Distress Centre also operates a suicide prevention program in the City's subway network. Through this broad range of work, the Toronto Distress Centre provides mental and emotional support in our communities that saves lives and builds a better city.
Since 2008, the Public Health Champion Awards have recognized individuals and organizations for their leadership in reducing health inequalities, fostering collaboration to improve the health of the population, building community capacity through innovative health promotion strategies and acting as a catalyst for positive change. More information is available at bit.ly/1GHJcTr.
Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. In 2017, Toronto will honour Canada's 150th birthday with "TO Canada with Love," a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TorontoComms and on Instagram at
Toronto Public Health
New Executive Director Announcement
The Board of Directors of the Toronto Distress Centres is very pleased to announce that Ms. Alison Caird will be joining our team on June 5th, 2017 as our new Executive Director.
Alison comes to us from Spectra Helpline – Peel Region, where she has been Executive Director since 2013. While at Spectra Alison’s accomplishments have been numerous. As the ED, Alison took the lead role in the operationalization of the Distress Center Peel and Telecare Brampton merger. She was also the driving force behind the introduction of significant service improvements both through process and technology advances including the ONTX online/text support collaborative, language line specialization and transitioning TeleCheck for Seniors’ into a peer program. Alison was also the Lead for their Marketing, Communications, Media Relations and as the “public face” of Spectra, was actively involved with all stakeholders.
Alison has dedicated her career to the non-profit and public sectors where she began as a literacy coordinator with the North York Public Library and the Children’s Aid Society, and then held progressively senior positions in volunteer management with the Toronto General, Toronto Western, and Toronto Rehab hospitals. In 2009 she became Executive Director of Serve!, a charity that worked with marginalized youth from the priority neighbourhoods of Toronto.
Alison is a lifelong learner with studies in human resources management at Ryerson University, executive leadership at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and fundraising with the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Recently Alison and her colleagues published Measuring the Impact of Volunteers: A Balanced and Strategic Approach, which won the 2016 Terry McAdam Book Award.
The results of Alison’s work have been acknowledged several times with awards and best practice designations in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, standards and service development.
As Chair of the Board of Directors I would like to thank Karen Letofsky for her undying dedication to the Distress Centres for the many years she was with us, and welcome Alison who will lead us into the future. I look forward to this exciting next chapter in the Distress Centres role as we continue to ensure every individual in need receives life-sustaining emotional support.
World Suicide Prevention Day
800,000 people die worldwide by suicide annually, including 3,500-4,000 in Canada. Many more are left behind struggling to make sense of this tragedy.
As a recognized leader in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, Distress Centres acknowledges and partners with events designed to bring attention to a public health crisis and to the impact on those left behind.
On Sunday, September 10th, Distress Centres is joining with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide. This year’s theme is ‘Take a minute-save a life. Every minute counts.”
Read our current and past newsletters!
Distress Centres 2016 August Newsletter
Distress Centres 2016 February Newsletter
Distress Centres 2015 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2014 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2013 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2012 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2011 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2010 Newsletter
Distress Centres 2015 Annual Report now Available
You can now download our 2015 Annual Report from our website here