'A Drop of Water in the Pool': Information and Engagement of Linguistic Communities Around a Municipal Pesticide Bylaw to Protect the Public’s Health
Critical Public Health
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The Multicultural Yard Health and Environment Project (MYHEP) used
Toronto’s Pesticide Bylaw roll-out process to examine how culturally
specific perceptions and practices might influence the relevance of
municipal public health information and community engagement strategies
and the effectiveness of health protection initiatives. In Canada, and
particularly in Toronto, such information is needed for governments to
effectively engage with increasingly diverse populations. Focus groups and
individual interviews were conducted with Spanish- and Cantonese speaking
participants to document opinions about pesticide use and
regulation and views on municipal information and engagement strategies.
MYHEP participants reported a need for more accessible environmental
health messaging. There was confusion over the safety and legality of
pesticide products available for sale in Toronto stores. Most participants
indicated they were unwilling to make formal complaints about neighbours
who were not complying with the bylaw (an important mechanism for
enforcement). Results indicate that environmental health communication
and engagement strategies need to be more carefully tailored to address
local sociocultural and linguistic contexts in order to provide more
equitable environmental health protection and promotion for all residents.
These findings led Toronto Public Health to adapt its efforts so as to better
engage communities regarding environmental health.