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Association of Ontario Health Centres
Association des centres de sante de l’Ontario

Ontario's voice for community-governed primary health care.

Transformative Change in Action

Towards the Best Possible Health and Wellbeing for Everyone

The Stairs, a Toronto-shot documentary that presents a raw and honest picture of harm reduction efforts in the city’s Regent Park neighbourhood, is screening now at the TIFF Lightbox.

Since the early 1990s, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (WHIWH) Community Health Centre has been putting people and communities first with its focus on issues of health equity, and a clear mandate to serve the unique health and wellbeing needs of women from African, Caribbean, Latin American and South Asian communities.

While attending a national conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of medicare a few years ago, I had the good fortune to have dinner with an elderly couple who were but a handful of doctors that broke rank from their peers to support Tommy Douglas’s vision for public health care in Canada. When asked why they did it, their immediate response was: “It was the right thing to do.”

Guys Can Cook participants roll pizza dough with a chef student from George Brown College, at the Four Villages CHC in 2015.

Give a kid a nutrition lesson in a classroom, and he might forget it later that day. Teach a kid to cook nutritious meals he likes to eat and share with friends, and those lessons might just last a lifetime. Involve a kid in how those lessons are taught? That helps to create a lifelong sense of purpose and wellbeing. And that’s the principle that drives health promotion in the seven Toronto Community Health Centres that run a program called Guys Can Cook! (GCC).

West Nipissing Community Health Centre (CHC) is celebrating a major milestone – the grand opening of its new building in a former school. This bilingual centre is one of more than 20 AOHC members that provide French-language services to Franco-Ontarians across the province. West Nipissing CHC has been serving people and communities in Sturgeon Falls since 2010, but up until recently it was located in the community’s former hospital.

To put people and communities first, AOHC members actively engage the people they serve, every step of the way planning, developing and evaluating health and wellbeing services and programs. In order to ensure a people- and community-centred approach, AOHC members are also governed by community representatives, which makes them distinct from other parts of Ontario’s primary care system.

In the speech from the throne on September 12, Premier Wynne reiterated her government’s commitment to community hubs, affirming they make it “easier to access health, social, education, cultural and recreational programs and services that nurture community life.” But creating hubs, and making sure they serve the community in the most effective way, is no easy matter. How can more Ontario communities get there?

Community Health and Wellbeing Week

Welcome to this first blog posting from the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC). We begin by asking: why is public debate about Ontario’s health system so focused on doctors and how much they are paid delivering services to patients. If you agree with us that we need to change shift the conversation, will you participate in a province-wide online communication initiative?