What are Aboriginal Health Access Centres?
Aboriginal Health Access Centres
(AHACs) are Aboriginal community-led, primary health care organizations. They provide a combination of
traditional healing, primary care, cultural programs, health promotion programs, community development
initiatives, and social support services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. There are currently
ten AHACs in Ontario, providing services both on and off-reserve, in urban, rural and northern
First announced in 1995, AHACs were closely modelled after Ontario’s Community Health Centres (CHCs), whose wide basket of services and supports had become the preferred mechanism to improve the health and well-being of communities in Ontario facing various barriers in accessing health care. In fact, two CHCs had already been established, one in Toronto and another in Timmins, with a mandate to apply this CHC model as the framework for services to local Aboriginal community members.
Ontario’s experience with CHCs, including these two Aboriginal CHCs — Anishnawbe Health Toronto CHC and Misiway Milopemahtesewin CHC in Timmins —provided strong evidence that such organizations could play a powerful role in improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal communities throughout Ontario.
That’s why, in 1994, when the province implemented the Aboriginal Health Policy for Ontario — a policy developed in broad consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities — Aboriginal community-led primary health care was identified as a key pillar of the vision for the future. Beginning the following year, AHACs started to open their doors. By 2000, all ten were operational. And so were born Ontario’s Aboriginal Health Access Centres. Since then, AHACs have made a powerful contribution to health and well-being in Ontario, helping to bring tens of thousands of Aboriginal community members into the circle of care and support.
From clinical care services, to integrated chronic disease prevention and management, family-focused maternal/child health care, addictions counselling, traditional healing, mental health care, youth empowerment and other programs, AHACs continue to serve as a key gateway to overall family and community health and development.
2010 AHAC report: Our health, our future (PDF)