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The OPHA is a not‐for‐profit member‐based association that provides leadership in advancing public health in Ontario. Our Association represents six public and community health disciplines and our membership represents many public health and community health professionals from Ontario. To learn more about us, our structure, strategic direction, or membership, please visit the following links:

The OPHA provides leadership on issues affecting the public's health and works to strengthen the impact of people who are active in public and community health throughout Ontario. For more information, please visit the following pages:

The OPHA creates and maintains advocacy initiatives with a province-wide perspective. For more information, please visit the following pages:

This section includes the latest news about the OPHA and its programs, upcoming OPHA events, and other news of interest to the public health sector. For more information, please visit the following pages:

The OPHA leads the development of expertise in public and community health through collaboration, consultation and partnerships. Learn more about our Constituent Societies here.

The OPHA leads the development of expertise in public and community health through collaboration, consultation and partnerships. Learn more about our Constituent Societies here.

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Project Background

Project Overview

There is a growing body of evidence that supports the relationship between land use planning decisions, community design and the determinants of health. Public health and planning professionals are working more closely on shaping the built environment to enhance public health through many land use planning initiatives such as Official Plans, Secondary Plans, Transportation Master Plans, Pedestrian and Cycling Plans and Sustainability Plans to name a few.

However, a lack of knowledge and understanding exists between the professions regarding each other’s overall mandate, legislation, and decision-making processes. For many in the field, this is a new and emerging area of focus, especially when it comes to collaboration among the different disciplines. A clear need exists to better educate the professions in order to more effectively influence policy decisions related to health and the built environment.

A collaborative project was initiated with the objective of developing an online education module for public health and planning professionals in Ontario. The call to action on the OPHA built environment listserve resulted in the establishment of the project team co-leads including the Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The purpose of the project is to increase cross-disciplinary knowledge among public health and planning professionals involved in the land use planning process to help inform policy related to healthy built environments.

The project workgroup members are a diverse group of public health and planning professionals representing environmental health, chronic disease, injury prevention, epidemiology, nutrition, and community planning, and are all working collaboratively with the goal of developing this education module.

The project has been broken down into four phases:

  • Phase 1: Planning
  • Phase 2: Education Module Development
  • Phase 3: Pilot Testing and Finalizing Module
  • Phase 4: Launch of the Education Module

Phase 1: Planning

During Phase 1, a needs assessment was completed in order to develop a framework for the educational module. The needs assessment consisted of:

  • An environmental scan and critical appraisal of the literature
  • Surveys to public health and planning professionals
  • External stakeholder consultation

During the environmental scan, 81 resources were critically analyzed, of which 26 resources were selected as being adaptable for this project. The content of the resources was then assessed in terms of background; case studies; tools; checklists and glossaries; education and training; evaluation; partnerships; and policy.

Two separate surveys were developed and administered to public health professionals and OPPI planning professionals. The majority of public health (95.4%) and planning (85.7%) professionals agreed that they should be working together on built environment. Both professions identified a lack of understanding of each others' mandates and limited human resources are barriers to collaboration. Both professions reported having only limited to moderate knowledge about each others ' roles and responsibilities, legislation, policy or standards and built environment terminology/concepts.

Interviews were also conducted with four external stakeholder organizations identified as potentially having interest in the project. The objective of the interviews was to identify opportunities to collaborate with the organizations on the development and dissemination of the educational module. Each of the organizations expressed a desire to participate further in the project in different capacities as reviewers, advisors or in the final dissemination phase.

Phase 2: Education Module Development

Phase 2 of the project focused on knowledge translation and the development of the online education modules for public health and planning professionals. 

The project team developed a knowledge translation strategy, which consisted of a journal article submission, abstracts/poster submissions and presentations at conferences, co-ordinating webinars, and preparing Phase 1 results summaries.

The project team also developed a module development framework to guide the content development of the online education module based on the information gathered through the needs assessment. The project team was then divided into subcommittees to develop the content for the education modules

The education module consists of separate sections for public health and planners with tailored content for each. It is comprised of four sub-modules: Introduction to Health and the Built Environment; Policy, Legislation and Standards; Roles and Responsibilities; and Public Health and Planning Professionals Working Together.

Phase 3: Pilot Testing and Finalizing Module

Phase 3 of the project consisted of using focus groups made up of public health and planning professionals to pilot test the draft online education module. The pilot test participant feedback was integrated and the modules were finalized

Phase 4: Launch of the Education Module 

Phase 4 involves launching the online education module to public health and planning professionals in the winter of 2016 as well as developing a dissemination strategy to promote the education module to stakeholders.

There is a strong need for public health and planning professionals to engage in substantive ways in order to enhance land use planning and improve the built environment in Ontario. The online education module helps to bridge the gaps between both professions and provide greater opportunities for partnership and the creation of healthy built environments.

Public Health and Planning 101 Members

We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of all of the following project team members.
Kim Bergeron
Susan Bonomo
Jane Bulloch
Fabio Cabarcas
Joyce Castanza
Tanya Christidis
Terri Cline
Candice Einstoss
Pauline Gillen
Linda Godin
Kevin Haley
Robin Kang
Sari Liem
Ahalya Mahendra
Shilpa Mandoda
Mary Catherine Mehak
Jarvis Mendonca
Loretta Ryan
Mira Shnabel
Jodi Thesenvitz
Tin Vo
Jason Weppler
Monique Yu


We gratefully acknowledge that this project was supported by funding from Public Health Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada and York Region Public Health. A special thank you to the Public Health and Planning 101 project team and the main collaborating organizations; Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Public Health Agency of Canada.





For more information, contact:

Kevin Haley, Project Lead
1-877-464-9675 x4571

Upcoming events

The Ontario Public Health Convention (TOPHC) 2019
Indigenous and Black peoples public health gathering
Lean Sigma White Belt Workshop 2019