Social funding to support blood pressure program

jane-philpottThe federal government is experimenting with a relatively new funding model to kick-start a program aimed at helping older Canadians in Ontario and British Columbia manage high blood pressure.

Health Minister Jane Philpott (pictured) has announced a plan to invest in the community hypertension prevention initiative, using a so-called Social Impact Bond to make the $4 million investment. It’s the first time Ottawa has used the funding mechanism to support a public health program.

Only about 60 such bonds have been issued globally since the concept was first introduced six years ago.

According to the Social Finance Global Network, the Saskatchewan government was the first in Canada to adopt the funding model when it partnered in 2014 with a credit union and private investors on a communal housing project to help single mothers with children at risk of entering care.

Social Impact Bonds see investors provide upfront capital to run a project while a government pays to keep it running once predetermined goals are met.

Philpott said the hypertension initiative will give people 60 years or older access to health coaches, online tracking tools and referrals to community resources including cooking classes and walking clubs.

“Our government is working with partners on innovative ways to prevent chronic illness, such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” Philpott said in a statement.

“Social financing mechanisms can bring governments, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector together on shared public health priorities.”

About one in five Canadians has high blood pressure and an equal number are on the verge of hypertension, the leading risk factor for stroke, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Source: The Canadian Press

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