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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit serves the residents and vacationers of Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka. The Health Unit offers a wide range of health services focused on promoting and protecting health and preventing disease, illness and injury.  

The Health Unit serves a population of approximately 540,000 residents across a geographic area of 8,730 square kilometers. Programs and services are delivered from a variety of locations throughout Simcoe and Muskoka. 


SMDHU is seeking a vendor with expertise in youth engagement to facilitate focus 

groups and gather youth feedback on existing youth friendly messaging and images. A 

youth focused social media cannabis campaign will be created with the approved 

messaging and images, that will then be promoted on social media platforms through 

the vendor and property of SMDHU for future use. 

The goal and objectives of the campaign are as follows: 

  • To raise awareness of the physical, social, and mental health effects of cannabis specific to youth 14-18 years of age. 
  • To raise awareness of evidence informed strategies to mitigate the harms with cannabis use. 
  • To develop a campaign approach that is meaningful and engages youth, determined by focus group testing of cannabis key messages, images and a website resource through social media platforms. 
  • To direct youth and youth allies to a credible youth friendly website for reliable resources and future learning engagement. 
  • To increase awareness of Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines and The Blunt Truth as a framework for safer cannabis use. 
  • To normalize conversation about cannabis use, without promoting the use of cannabis. 


The proposed cannabis campaign messages and images have been adapted with 

permission from the University of Vermont. The U of Vermont campaign was 

developed, implemented, and successfully resonated with the youth target population 

when implemented in 2019 by the San Mateo Youth Commission. The purpose of the 

U of Vermont campaign was to educate youth and young adults about the facts on 

cannabis use. The proposed cannabis campaign has also received permission from 

Windsor Essex County Health Unit to use and adapt their youth developed images. 

A public health approach to cannabis legalization focuses on raising awareness about the potential health risks associated with cannabis use and works to decrease potential harm to individuals and communities. This is done in a way people feel supported to make informed decisions about their own cannabis use without judgement or stigmatization. 

Recent data indicates the rate of cannabis use has increased since pre-pandemic levels particularly among people 16-19 and 20-24 years of age. (Canadian Cannabis Survey, 2020).   

The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS) 2018/19, asked questions of students in grades 7 to 12, and reported an average age of initiation of 14.3 years. Age of initiation in SMDHU is not specified in available reports. 

In 2019, 1/4 of Simcoe Muskoka students in Grades 7 to 12 reported using cannabis in the past year, which was similar to what was reported in the 2015 survey: Use increases with grade level. (2019 OSDUHS). 

During the time period 2014 to 2018, (combined) Simcoe Muskoka emergency visits due to cannabis related harms were highest among youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years at 312 (293.6, 331.3) visits per 100,000. (HealthStats). SMDHU rates are significantly higher than provincial rates. 


The Proponent, having the skills of a research and communications consultant and/or 

company is to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Focus test the SMDHU approved design concepts, social media messaging, images, videos & website. 
  • Revisions to existing messaging/design concepts based on focus group testing 
  • Develop new materials to enhance the campaign, based on the focus group feedback. 
  • The Campaign committee is looking for messaging and imagery that resonates with youth 14-18 years-both males and females. 
  • Provide focus group/ youth approved key messaging and images/graphics through social media communication (e.g. Snap chat, Instagram). Direct target group to the messaging and What’s with weed website for more cannabis information. 
  • Describe recommendations for revisions (if necessary) to the existing suggested campaign pieces and new materials to supplement the campaign. 
  • Utilize social marketing strategies/concepts that would be most effective in reaching the target audience with messaging and images through appropriate platforms to direct the target audience for more information. 
  • Revise and/or develop materials for Cannabis Youth Campaign based on recommendations provided in the report, in consultation with the project team. All materials should be final format ready for implementation of the campaign (i.e. not mockups or proofs). 

CLOSING TIME: 12:00 noon JUNE 11, 2021 

Cindy Francis  

Senior Program Assistant/Purchasing  

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit  

15 Sperling Drive  

Barrie, ON L4M 6K9 


Agencies to consider for this assignment include Magrino PR and Finn Partners.  

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