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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.

Health Equity Heroes: 'This is by far the most important work I do'

What is health equity? What is the work that enables and promotes it? Why is this work so vital? During Community Health and Wellbeing Week 2017, AOHC members are demonstrating the ways that they put Health Equity at the Centre. As part of those efforts, we're going to bring you a stellar lineup of Health Equity Heroes all of this week (and beyond). Get to know the heroes among you, and the ones in neighbouring communities, and let's all celebrate and support this important work that helps everyone achieve their best possible health and wellbeing. Follow this space to read about more heroes, and check out the hashtags #CHWW2017 and #HealthEquityHeroes on social media to learn about even more.

What’s your name, how long have you worked at the centre, and what role(s) do you fill there?

My name is David Popiez, and I’ve worked for a year as a volunteer at North Hamilton Community Health Centre’s Breakfast Program and Grub Club.

What does health equity mean to you, and how do make a health equity approach part of your work?

It means providing equal access to health care and social programs, regardless of your socioeconomic status. I volunteer at the centre’s programs to try and provide proper nutrition and knowledge to help youth be more independent, so they can learn important life skills.

Why is taking a health equity approach so important to your work?

It helps me to know I can make a difference. It is important that everyone has access to nutrition, and also that youth know that they are important. That way they can learn to care for and respect all people, and can develop skills and confidence to be contributors to society. This work is by far the most important work that I do, and it is the favourite part of my week.

In what ways is your centre able to support your health equity approach?

Watching Scott Paige and Jenna McHugh (Community Development Workers at North Hamilton CHC) – in the approach to how they deliver their programs, and how they interact with youth – has inspired me beyond words. They are amazing.

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What’s your name, how long have you worked at the centre, and what role(s) do you fill there?

I'm Raymond Balec, and I’ve worked for six years as a Family Physician at NorWest Community Health Centres.

What does health equity mean to you, and how do make a health equity approach part of your work?

A system with health equity is a system in which measures are taken to equalize the determinants of health. I make health equity a part of my work by offering health services to people who might not otherwise receive health care.

Why is taking a health equity approach so important to your work?

I have had a number of transgender patients tell me they had not previously been able to find a health care provider able to meet their needs for primary care. This has been rewarding.

In what ways is your centre able to support your health equity approach?

Our centre has supported a health equity approach to providing care to transgender patients by ensuring access to primary care providers and therapists experienced in addressing gender dysphoria, providing access to support groups, and by using inclusive language on all of our forms that ask about gender identity.