SCIO Community Magazine
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Advocacy @ SCIO

Moving from strength to credibility to power.

The advocacy department of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is committed to amplifying our community’s voice. To achieve this effectively, we are actively pursuing three strategic directions.

  1.   Enhance our capacity for people with SCI to engage decision makers.
  2.   Building coalitions that unify influential stakeholders and organizations that share a common voice for optimal health and well-being for people with SCI.
  3.   Fair and equitable services across Ontario that impact the quality of life of people with SCI.

Our greatest strength is our community of people with SCI sharing their lived experience. Learning from people who live with SCI in Ontario generates understanding of how programs, services, research and policies should function. Only those relying on our government systems and supports can provide the greatest knowledge and perspective to make them work best.

To harness this knowledge and perspective of the community, we have actively engaged people with SCI and are asking them to develop a relationship with Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) across Ontario. We describe them as Peer Activists and presently have 83 in the 127 ridings across Ontario. If you wish to participate in Peer Activist work, email us at [email protected]

If Peer Activism is not your thing but you want to contribute, you still can….Simply, join the movement and become a campaigner at and sign up to receive regular communications. You will have the opportunity to participate in our calls for action and get play-by-play information on how we are tackling fair and equitable services for people with SCI in Ontario. Get involved today!

Building Coalitions

Our coalitions build on our credibility.  With 100+ organizations and corporate partners by our side, we become a stronger force. We have representation across the entire continuum of care, including; researchers, hospitals, clinicians, service providers, community organizations and corporate affiliates. Our established coalitions have the skills and expertise to facilitate qualitative and quantitative research, informatics, business cases, economic analysis and corporate resources. Collectively harnessing the economy of SCI with those with lived experience, we can address and resolve systemic barriers that impact the quality of life of people with SCI most efficiently. View the progress of our advocacy partnerships,

Fair and Equitable Services Across Ontario

Combining coalitions and Peer Activists across Ontario is powerful. By harnessing this power, we can be an effective resource to all levels of government that make decisions affecting people with SCI. Through comprehensive consultations with opinion leaders (people with SCI, researchers, service providers, policy makers) and using our knowledge to action framework, three priority areas have been identified.

Priority # 1 – Province Wide Medical Supply Coverage Program

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and key Alliance members have come together as a coalition of clinicians, organizations, people with physical disabilities and policymakers to examine and address issues related to intermittent catheters use in Ontario. The role of the Intermittent Catheter Issue Working Group is to:
Compare international best practice with existing practice in Ontario (and Canada) while assessing the current evidence base in order to inform provincial health policy.
Release a position paper based on the Working Group’s overall findings that will guide policy development. Our submission to Health Quality Ontario can be found on our website.
Advocate to provincial policymakers to ensure that Ontario provides adequate access and the best available evidence for individuals who need access to intermittent catheters.

What we learned is that people are spending a great deal for catheters with limited supports. To discuss this issue with the Ontario Government, join us on March 18 if you’re in Toronto as we share solutions with MPPs across Ontario at our Queen’s Park Day. It’s here, where we will officially launch our #peeforfree campaign to raise awareness of this important issue across the province.

Priority # 2 – Access to Mobility Devices

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and key Alliance members have come together to examine and address issues related to access to mobility devices in Ontario. In 2018, the Task Force partnered with the University of Toronto’s Public Good Initiative to conduct an independent review of the Mobility Device Sector in Ontario. View our recommendations

Presently we are working with PC Caucus Services and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to ensure our recommendations are implemented. To be involved in this initiative, support your community by engaging your MPP.

Priority # 3 – Accessible Health Care for All

During the Ontario SCI Alliance Retreat on April 13, 2018, we gathered numerous engagement strategies to address key challenges and systemic barriers in key topic areas. Our intention is for the Alliance to be an enabler and community mobilizer for primary care providers and people with SCI. The community plan aims to organize and mobilize primary care and interdisciplinary supports for people with spinal cord injury in the community. Our goal is to leverage the evidence and support of key topic areas (neuropathic pain, bladder management, and prevention and treatment of pressure injuries) and transfer this valuable knowledge and education to family physicians and people with SCI across Ontario. To execute this priority, we are creating knowledge exchange initiatives with our partners and hosting meetings with primary care providers through Ontario’s Telemedicine Network (OTN). 

To complement this knowledge exchange, we are also building a physician engagement network. If you know family physicians serving people with SCI in your community, please let us know.

The larger the network, the more health and well-being support there will be for people with SCI.

To further support this priority, we are building a Virtual Information Platform for people with SCI (VIP4SCI). This technology aims to connect people with SCI with their circle of supports virtually. You can join the research study through our Research web page.

As we increase enhanced interest from family physicians and inter-professional teams in the community to join our family physician engagement network, we will encourage and provide resources and advocacy to develop Accessible Mobility Clinics everywhere in Ontario.

Peter Athanasopoulos | Winter 2019

Peter Athanasopoulos is Senior Manager, Government Relations & Public Policy, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

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