New Community Safety and Wellness Model launched in Ottawa
A new multiagency pilot has been launched in the southeast of Ottawa to assist individuals and families who are most vulnerable for harm, victimization, and/or criminality, receive the safety, social, and health-related supports they need. The goal is to coordinate effective intervention that addresses the root causes of the risk, and reduces the likelihood of the level of risk escalating.
The initiative, called MERIT (Multiagency Early Risk Intervention Tables), is a collaborative partnership involving over 20 local, regional, and provincial agencies as well as community based organizations. Building on the success of existing partnerships, MERIT formalizes the approach to risk management and early preventative intervention by utilizing existing partner resources to enhance and prioritize services.
“On a weekly basis, front-line professionals from local schools, hospitals, police, housing, vulnerable sectors, and other social and health services will meet and bring high-risk cases forward for discussion,” explained Champlain Local Health Integration Network CEO Chantale LeClerc. “By connecting people with the right supports when they need them most, they’re able to restore healthy and productive lives.”
The program aims to address the risk factors that may lead to imminent social disorder, harm, victimization, and/or criminality. This includes issues such as poor mental health, alcohol or substance misuse, chronic truancy from school, inadequate housing, or unemployment that impacts individuals, families, and the larger community. If left unattended, these issues can escalate and require targeted enforcement, emergency response, or intensive and costly support from health and social service providers.
The six month pilot is taking place in the southeast of Ottawa to build on and leverage existing services and partnerships.
MERIT attempts to balance the requirement to assist those in need while respecting their right to privacy. A specific process has been developed by privacy experts to address confidentiality and to minimize the identifiable personal information that is disclosed and available to participating agencies.