Locally Driven Collaborative Projects (LDCP)

The Locally Driven Collaborative Projects (LDCP) program brings public health units together to develop and run research projects on issues of shared interest related to the Ontario Public Health Standards.

Working collaboratively on an LDCP helps connect students, academics, and organizations that are doing related work. Through LDCP, public health unit staff lead projects, strengthening their skills in research and project management, while ensuring that the results of these projects are directly relevant to the work of Ontario’s public health units.

LDCP at a Glance (Since 2011)

36 Project Teams
478 Health Unit Participants
308 Knowledge Products
150 Presentations


Strengthening the public health system through collaboration towards applied research and evaluation on key public health issues


  • Fostering collaborative partnerships amongst health units and key stakeholders
  • Increasing the capacity of health units through implementation of applied research and evaluation projects that are scientifically-sound and feasible, generating relevant knowledge for the Ontario public health system
  • To strengthen and sustain knowledge transfer among health units and between health units and other stakeholders

How LDCP Works

The LDCP program operates in four phases:

  • Prioritizing ideas for projects
  • Developing proposals
  • Implementing projects
  • Moving findings from knowledge to action

Public Health Ontario funds approved LDCP projects and supports participants throughout all phases, including:

  • Facilitated process for initial priority setting
  • Focused research facilitation
  • Training and skill development on a wide range of topics
  • Knowledge exchange opportunities
  • Resources and tools
  • Infrastructure for virtual collaboration

Getting involved in LDCP

Collaboration is a key component of the LDCP program. Public health unit staff, academics and students can get involved. Participating in an LDCP provides opportunities to make connections with others working in the field, attend workshops and other training opportunities on a wide range of topics, access the LDCP collaboration site and many research resources, complete a research project, and develop leadership and collaboration skills.

"…the opportunity to participate was worthwhile, and I learned a lot about research, questionnaire development and the process. Working at a smaller, more rural health unit, the LDCP project gave me opportunities that would not have been available."

"I’ve expanded my personal network and connections and it’s not only with frontline staff. It’s with managers. It’s with epidemiologists. It’s with program specialists, with nurses, with health promoters."

To learn more, please contact ldcp@oahpp.ca.

Our Projects

Featured Projects

Continuous Quality Improvement

Strengthening continuous quality improvement in Ontario’s public health units


Continuous quality improvement (CQI) is an overarching management philosophy that focuses on the processes and systems of the daily work activities of all employees. The goal of CQI is to improve programs and services by using data to test, analyze and improve processes. 

With the emphasis on quality and continuous organizational self-improvement in The Ontario Public Health Standards, it is more important than ever to understand how to strengthen CQI in Ontario’s public health units (PHUs). To date, there has been little guidance on how to go about CQI in PHUs. They are at different stages, and it has been difficult to share information, learn from each other, and develop common ways of doing things

The goal of this project is to strengthen continuous quality improvement in Ontario’s PHUs. Strategies and tools to support robust and sustainable CQI in Ontario’s PHUs will be identified.

Project Summary

This project will bring together stakeholders such as public health unit staff, Health Quality Ontario (HQO), and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) to help design, implement and evaluate the project. Previously completed research which included survey results from public health unit staff and a scoping review, will provide the foundation to build on these findings. 
The next phase of this research will be to develop a best practice approach to strengthening CQI within and across Ontario’s public health units, and to facilitate movement along the CQI maturity continuum.  This will be achieved through consultation with PHUs and other partners in the public health sector regarding CQI language use and the collection and analysis of examples of CQI work done in PHUs to determine effectiveness.


Population Health Assessment

The Children Count Pilot Study: Utilizing the school climate survey for coordinated health surveillance and planning for children and youth in Ontario


Ontario does not have a system that allows for the consistent monitoring of child and youth health information for local communities. Information on children and youth is needed at the local level to make decisions on public health programs that better meet the unique needs of this population. Through our research and collaboration with provincial school boards, we will develop methodology for a new health module, addressing healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health for inclusion in the school climate survey.

Project Summary 

Findings from the first phase of research taken on by the Population Health Assessment Team focused on assessing the health data gaps for children and youth in Ontario. The final report Children Count was released in March 2017. This project surveyed all local public health units and included key informants from academic institutions, government and Directors of Education.

A key finding was that mental health, physical activity and healthy eating are high priority topics for which improved local data collection is needed.

In building on the recommendations from phase one, the Children Count LDCP team is engaging in a two-year pilot process utilizing the school climate survey for coordinated health surveillance.

In addition to collaborating with school boards to develop methodology for a new health module that addresses healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health for inclusion in the school climate survey, this project will also 

  • evaluate the applicability and feasibility of the partnership between public health units and school boards and
  • develop an implementation guide for coordinated surveillance and health service planning using the school climate survey.

The pilot began in December 2017 with the recruitment of school boards as pilot sites. This research aims to recruit four to seven (n=4to7) school boards that represent the diversity across the province (including Catholic, public, French, rural, northern, urban etc.) and will focus on expanding existing relationships between school boards and public health units.

School boards, along with their health unit counter parts will become part of the research steering committee, governing every aspect of the research in a participatory research model. The newly formed steering committee will carry-out all aspects of research, implementation and analysis.


This project will yield an implementation guide summarizing the process of data collection, data use and collaboration with public health units and school boards and will be used for knowledge exchange with broader audiences, serving as a toolkit for implementing, analyzing and using school climate survey data.


Measuring Food Literacy


What we eat influences our health. Poor diet puts us at risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, poor mental health, and blood pressure. Research shows that food literacy, along with other strategies, may improve healthy eating. Further exploration on the benefits of food literacy programs is needed to understanding how food literacy can improve healthy eating, reduce the risk of illness, and maintain good health. 

A tool that measures food literacy is key in planning successful public health programs in Ontario. When program funding is limited, we need to know how to best plan, implement and evaluate food literacy programs. A tool to measure food literacy will help us determined which programs are most effective.  

Project Summary

In 2016, our Locally Driven Collaborative Project team conducted research to create a list of key attributes (or characteristics) of food literacy. In consultation with food literacy experts and staff working in public health, 12 attributes, placed into the five categories were identified:          

  • Food and Nutrition Knowledge (knowing about the variety of foods, where food comes from, and nutrients in food and how they relate to health);
  • Food Skills (i.e., through all of life being able to prepare meals safely using basic skills like chopping, measuring, cooking, and reading recipes);
  • Self-Efficacy/Confidence (i.e., being able to select, buy, prepare, and cook healthy food in a variety of settings; picking out what is ‘healthy and ‘unhealthy’; knowing how to find reliable information; and having a positive attitude towards food and trying new food;
  • Food Decisions (i.e., making healthy food choices);
  • External Factors - Impact health and environment and may affect food literacy:
    • Social Factors (i.e., good wages, enough food, safe housing you can afford, the tools to prepare food, places to learn about healthy eating)
    • Food System (i.e., how we grow, process, transport, consume, and dispose of food)
  • Culture and Beliefs (i.e., cultural and family food practices, eating together, having family and/or other social supports) Creating a Food Literacy Tool

To build on this research, our team will work with a Research Consultant to develop and test a tool. This tool will measure food literacy with high-risk groups including:

  • youth (aged 16 to 19 years),
  • young parents (aged 16 to 25 years),
  • pregnant women (aged 16 to 25 years).

To plan our study, we looked at how similar tools (e.g., NutriStep®, Healthy Eating Index, SCREEN) were developed. We also talked with some of the researchers involved in making these tools.

Key questions for the food literacy tool will be created and  organized according to the 12food literacy attributes.  Different tests will be used make sure the questions in the tool collect the information we want to know about food literacy.

Once the tool is created, further testing will occur that will involve the  same target groups  so the tool can be used by public health staff working with these high-risk groups. 


Once testing is complete, we will have created a high-quality tool that measures food literacy in the target populations we have identified; collects data on how well these programs run; makes changes to programs; and uses data to advocate with the government and other key agencies for additional food literacy resources. 


Health Equity Data Mobilization

Sharing health information with community organizations to promote healthy living for all


Advancing health equity in our communities requires collaboration between local public health agencies (LPHAs) and community partners. Access to community demographics as well as behavioural and health outcome data is important for identifying opportunities and gaps in health equity work. This project will use a collaborative approach that encourages leadership among community partners , fostering sustainable data sharing opportunities between LPHAs and their partners.

Project Summary

Currently, there is no sustainable and consistent system for sharing data between LPHAs and community organizations (such as YMCA, March of Dimes, Children’s Services). As a result, community organizations are hindered in their ability to better understand priority populations,

  • inform programs and services that address priority needs,
  • support funding proposals and
  • participate in local advocacy efforts in their communities.

This project aims to identify best practices to select, analyze and distribute key behavioural and health outcome data for health equity work. The project will be carried out in two phases followed by a knowledge exchange component.

The first phase of this project will focus on mapping the current uses of health equity-related data by community partners through an online survey. The survey will explore their needs, challenges, and enablers to accessing and interpreting data. A summary of survey results and literature review findings will inform a facilitated group discussion session with approximately 20-24 community partners. The discussion will focus on three themes:  barriers, possible solutions, and implementation considerations in data sharing and use.

The final phase will focus on developing a process to share data based on input from community partners at the facilitated group discussion. This process will inform best practices to select, analyze, and distribute key behavioural and health outcome data and will be piloted with selected partners to ensure it meets the needs of a variety of community organizations.


A guide summarizing the analyses from the online survey, literature review, and facilitated group discussion will be developed. The purpose of the guide is to encourage LPHAs and community partners to use the recommended data sharing process to advance health equity. The guide will be disseminated to key stakeholders and identified knowledge users.


Patients First

Public Health Units and LHINs working together for population health


The new legislature in Ontario, called the Patients First Act, requires Public Health Units (PHUs) and Local Health Intergration Networks (LHINs) to work together in new ways.  The role of regional agencies, called Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), is to plan how to best use resources to meet those patient needs in a cost-effective manner. Public Health Units are being asked to contribute more to health system planning with LHINs due to PHUs’ focus on population health assessment, prevention of disease and injury, protection of the public from illness and health promotion. 

Using a population health approach means looking at how to address the health needs of the whole population, not just of the patients treated in the health care system. A population health approach seeks to improve the health of the entire population and reduce health inequities among certain groups in the population.  This helps individuals, groups, and communities to have a fair chance to reach their full health potential. This also prevents disadvantage by social, economic, or environmental conditions.  

The focus of this project will be to explore and determine key elements for a successful collaboration between PHUs and LHINs, to improve the health system in Ontario informed by a population health approach.

Project Summary

Each PHU and LHIN relationships is unique. Efforts will be made to engage and interview key groups throughout the project to learn from existing collaboration in Ontario.

This project will define the expectations and offerings of both PHUs and LHINs, working towards a shared population health model. Through this research, we will determine what information can best support health system planning and delivery and whether this information takes into account all the factors that influence health over lifetimes.

Interviews will be conducted with a variety of individuals and groups that will include Medical Officers of Health, Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care representatives, LHIN and PHU board members, Program managers and directors, Epidemiologists and health analysts in Ontario.

Research will be conducted in two phases: a descriptive qualitative study in phase 1 that will inform a cross-sectional online survey to be conducted in phase 2. 


The development of research products may include self-assessment checklists, to assist in determining the  key elements for successful PHU and LHIN collaborations, in addition to formal PHU-LHIN agreements such as Project Charter or Memorandum of Understanding templates.  We anticipate that PHUs and LHINs will use these tools to develop consistent and helpful approaches for  collaboration, improving the health system in Ontario with a population health approach. 


Relationship building with First Nations and public health

Exploring principles and practices for engagement to improve community health


Ontario public health units deliver a broad range of population health programs. These programs aim to improve and protect the health of all and ensure everyone has equal opportunities for health. However, public health units do not systematically engage with First Nation communities to ensure a seamless public health system.

Within Northeastern Ontario, there are 39 First Nation communities where Indigenous people live on reserve land as designated within the Indian Act. This LDCP project intends to identify mutually beneficial, respectful and effective principles and practices of engagement between First Nation communities and public health units in Northeastern Ontario. Engagement, for the purposes of this project, is defined as a process of involvement through a respectful relationship.

Project Summary

Public health units have an interest in developing processes to effectively engage with First Nation communities in a respectful and mutually beneficial way. Little formal guidance is available to public health from the province on the best ways to do this. In addition, we know little about how First Nations wish to engage and collaborate with local public health units.  Outcomes from this research will be an important first step in working towards improved opportunities for health for all. This project will be conducted in two parts that will focus on a literature review and an engagement scan. 

The literature review of academic journals and other publications will explore principles and strategies of engagement and collaboration between Indigenous people and Canadian public sector agencies in the last 10 years. The purpose of the review is to find existing work for this project to build on. 

A scan for examples of engagement between public health units (or other types of organizations) and Indigenous people and communities in the past 10 years will be conducted by the research team. The goal of the scan is to identify recent examples that we can learn from to help identify successful principles and strategies, in addition to those that have failed. This scan will be completed in two phases, involving an online survey (which will be sent to the Ontario public health units that have previously engaged with First Nations) and focus groups or sharing circles (involving

Northeast Ontario First Nation communities, Tribal Councils or First Nation regional health service organizations having engaged with public health).


Representatives with expertise, experience and Indigenous perspectives from communities within the Northeast will be responsible for guiding the project team and informing important decisions about the project’s design, direction and implementation, to ensure that the overall approach to this project includes First Nations voices.

The First Nations principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession, also known as OCAP will provide  a comprehensive research framework which embraces self-determination as to how data involving First Nations is collected, used and shared. 


The team will analyze and interpret the data to develop guidance in the form of potential principles and strategies for good engagement.  They will actively share results with public health units, First Nations, and others who may have an interest in developing respectful engagement strategies. 


Previous LDCP projects

This page contains reports from previous LDCP projects.


Built Environment

Childhood Health Weights

Fall Prevention

Making fall prevention “everyone’s business” - Getting community partners to actively address fall prevention for older adults

Mental Health

Patients First

Program Evaluation

Social Media

Updated 3 Oct 2019