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October 28, 2008
Public Health Champion Awards recipients named
Toronto’s Board of Health announced today the recipients of the first Public Health Champion Awards. Created as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Public Health in Toronto, the awards recognize one individual and one agency that have made outstanding contributions to protecting and promoting the health of Toronto’s residents.

The recipient in the individual category is Wendy Babcock, who works as a harm reduction worker at Street Health. Nominated by her colleagues, Wendy has a track record of achievement that includes:

• initiating a partnership with Toronto Police Services to ensure sex workers can report assault without fear of persecution or prosecution, and being a member of the advisory group to the Special Victims Unit
• helping to create numerous projects focused on the safety of sex workers, such as the Safer Stroll Project, the Bad Date Book Coalition, the Health Bus Sex Workers Stop and Wen Do safety training for sex workers
• being an outspoken advocate telling her personal story as an exploited youth and providing training and presentations to high school and university students, health and community agencies, government committees and the media
• testifying as a witness in the court challenge to decriminalize prostitution laws
• maintaining an A+ average as she completes her final year of a diploma program at George Brown College.

The recipient in the agency category is the Volunteer Physicians and Dentists at the Scarborough Urban Health Outreach Centre. Nominated by a public health nurse and community health officer, the Volunteer Physicians and Dentists provide care to uninsured and vulnerable individuals and families. Their work includes:

• providing health examinations, diagnosis, treatment, counselling, referrals and vaccinations for more than 10,000 Scarborough residents since 2000
• providing dental services such as fillings, extractions, limited root canal treatments and prevention and education to more than 800 adults since 2005
• caring for uninsured and vulnerable residents, including new immigrants, those applying for status or with expired claims, people who are homeless or at risk and those who have lost or expired health cards
• working collaboratively with other health professionals and institutions, including hospitals, researchers, volunteer lawyers, midwives, Community Care Access Centres and Toronto Public Health
• mobilizing resources for uninsured patients to improve access to preventive screening programs such as breast and pap screening
• generously volunteering time and expertise to provide vital health services while raising awareness and advocating for action to address inequalities and social determinants of health.

The recipients of the Public Health Champion Awards will be honoured at a reception on Thursday, October 30 at the City of Toronto Archives. This event is the opening reception for the Toronto Archives exhibit “An Infectious Idea: 125 Years of Public Health in Toronto.” The exhibit opening coincides with a two-day symposium being held at Hart House on the topic “Determinants of Our Health: Toronto in a Global Village.” The program and registration for the symposium is available on the Toronto Public Health website at

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Rishma Govani, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974,



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