Community Diabetes equipment

Published on November 12, 2015 | by Jacob Sintzel     Photography by Steve Buissinne*


Organizations take action against diabetes in Rexdale

The Rexdale Community Health Centre and Canadian Diabetes Association are taking action in Rexdale, Ont. to combat one of the highest diabetes rates in the Greater Toronto Area. The organizations plan on educating the public about diabetes risk tests available this November during Diabetes Awareness Month.

According to a study mapping diabetes rates across Ontario by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Rexdale was found to have one of the highest rates in the GTA. The study, conducted in April 2012, found that in Rexdale, Brampton and Malton, 12 out of every 100 people were living with diabetes. The provincial average was approximately 9 out of every 100 people living with diabetes.

From the conclusions of this report, ICES describes a number of contributing factors that could be linked to the high diabetes rate in Rexdale. Individuals of First Nations, South Asian, African and Hispanic ancestry are more prone to developing diabetes, according to the study. Language barriers, poverty and medication costs as well as lack of access to healthy and affordable foods in high-risk diabetes areas could also be influencing factors.

Each organization is doing its part to fight diabetes by encouraging people to take a CANRISK test. See the sidebar for more information on the CANRISK assessment.

“We do a campaign every year, but this is the second time where it’s prevention-focused. It’s going very well and our goal is to have 120-thousand people fill out the CANRISK tests,” said Paul Kilbertus, the Senior Manager of Strategic Communication for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

The Rexdale Community Health Centre’s Diabetes Education Coordinator Golda Inniss said as part of Diabetes Awareness Month the health centre plans on going into the community and educating those who wish to know more about diabetes. The centre will host presentations on diabetes management and prevention as well as perform screenings, such as the CANRISK test, to assess an individual’s risk for developing diabetes.

“We’re happy to go into the community and work with physicians and provide one-on-one counseling,” said Inniss.

The Rexdale community can get involved with Diabetes Awareness Month by encouraging people to come into the health centre and ask for support through their Diabetes Education Centre, said Inniss.

“We encourage people, especially during diabetes month – but not just diabetes month, March is nutrition month – to come in. Self-refer yourself. Come in, meet with a nurse and dietician,” said Inniss.

The Diabetes Education Centre is open to the general community, said Inniss, allowing people to self-refer themselves to meet with qualified nurses and certified diabetes educators that specialize in helping individuals with diabetes.

The Canadian Diabetes Association is also seeking to make an impact this November with their Take 2 Minutes campaign, said Kilbertus. The campaign is named after the time it should take to complete a CANRISK test.

Along with campaigning, the association is a key player in diabetes research and giving young diabetes researchers an opportunity to get started, said Kilbertus.

The Canadian Diabetes Association has been funding diabetes research for over forty years and has put over $125 million into it, Kilbertus said.

All of the funds that go towards the association’s research, roughly $5-to-7-million, are solely from donations without any government funding, said Kilbertus.

“Research has made a huge impact,” Kilbertus said.

You can go to to determine your risk for diabetes and to donate to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

The Rexdale Community Health Centre can be contacted at 416-744-0066 ext. 2375 for anyone interested in the centre’s help with outreach events, said Inniss. The Diabetes Education Program is offered at three separate health centre locations and in multiple languages. Visit to find the one nearest you.

*Photo by Steve Buissinne used under Creative Commons License

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  • The CANRISK Test


    Paul Kilbertus, the Senior Manager of Strategic Communication for the Canadian Diabetes Association says this is a test specific to diabetes that the Government of Canada hosts.

    It gives you your risk of diabetes and encourages you to follow up with your doctor or pharmacist if your risk is deemed high.


    The Rexdale Community Health Centre’s Diabetes Education Coordinator Golda Inniss says the CANRISK screening records the height, weight and waist circumference of a person to determine someone’s body mass index. These screenings cannot diagnose people with diabetes but will help identify a person’s risk for developing it.


    Inniss says that inside the Rexdale Community Health Centre, there are doctors that can diagnose individuals with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. This involves taking blood work and performing an A1c test that provides the patient’s average blood sugar levels over a three-month period.