Focusing on Gabriola Families

Health and Wellness Collaborative

Press Release

Tuesday, February 13 2018

Having strong, healthy, connected families is key to overall community health. 

In the fall of 2017, Dr. Paul Hasselback, Central Vancouver Island Medical Health Officer outlined some critical issues facing our community, and, in particular our families, specifically: lack of economic vitality evidenced by poverty and income insecurity; and, a very high child poverty rate of 39%. 

Hasselback’s observations were echoed by Dr. Tracey Thorne: “As a family doctor and a Mom, I know there is a great need to strengthen services and opportunities for children and their parents on our island. Poverty, food insecurity and lack of affordable housing stress many families on Gabriola. 

“We have some wonderful programs to support families, but even with these programs it can be hard for parents to find work, recreational or childcare opportunities that make living here as a family viable. Gabriola is a beautiful place to raise kids, but we must examine how we can work as a community to invest in our kids and meet the needs of their parents in order to nurture a healthy future for all of the island”.

The Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative, a consortium of organizations and individuals working to improve health outcomes for all Gabriolans, has decided to focus its 2018 efforts on ways to help Gabriola families thrive. 

As Chamber of Commerce President Gloria Hatfield notes: “Young families are an integral part of any thriving economy.  Last year the Chamber led, on behalf of the RDN, a strategic planning process of Gabriola’s community of entrepreneurs. Repeatedly they put up on the flip charts the need to provide better resources and guidance to assist younger people grow and prosper in our island’s business community.  

“The Collaborative is a smart way to help tackle this as we look at health across the spectrum, including having an economy that can support families.”

The recent federal census, along with local reports on different aspects of health and wellbeing, provides some insights to the challenges that families face. 

But coming up with strategies that will improve life for families requires hearing from families, engaging with community organizations to brainstorm solutions, and then testing those solutions out with families. 

The first step in this process is the launch of a survey to get a sense of the critical issues families face and the type of actions they think will be effective. The survey can be accessed at: and will be open February 12th until March 12. For more information, please contact the planning team at: or visit the Collaborative Facebook page at: