Community Health Centres (CHCs) are non-profit organizations that offer a range of coordinated, multi-disciplinary primary health care and related services to their community, with an emphasis on one or more distinct priority groups for whom services are specifically designed.
CHCs are sponsored and managed by community boards that involve members of the community and others who provide health and social services. Community governance enables health services to be more easily oriented towards what community members identify as their most important needs.
Ontario’s first community health centres were started in the 1960s and began to receive funding from the Ministry of Health in the early 1970s. The CHC movement received a strong boost in 1972, when the Hastings Report endorsed CHCs as a good model for primary care and health promotion. By the mid-1970s, a pilot CHC Program was set up at the Ministry to support the 10 urban health centres then in existence. In 1982, the CHC Program was established as an ongoing Ministry program. Today, the Community Health Centre Program is an established program of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which provides full funding for approved programs.
CHCs operate under the principle that people’s health is influenced by social and physical environment, employment, education and housing, as well as access to appropriate and effective health care. CHCs take into account the specific characteristics and risk factors associated with the distinct priority groups and plan care accordingly. CHCs believe that people are healthier when they have a sense of belonging and purpose.
CHCs offer a range of comprehensive primary health care and health promotion programs in diverse communities across Ontario. Some CHCs are population specific, catchment based and/or have defined priority populations. Services within CHCs are structured and designed to eliminate system-wide barriers to accessing health care such as poverty, geographic isolation, ethno- and cultural-centrism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, language discrimination, ageism, ableism and other harmful forms of social exclusion. These can include issues such as complex mental health that can lead to an increased burden or risk of ill health.
CHCs work is framed by a shared Model of Health and Wellbeing that positions health as a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. This model acknowledges that health problems are also caused by social inequality and disadvantages that affect access to resources.
CHC Model of Health and Wellbeing
CHCs and their Association share a strong commitment to advancing health equity and we recognize that access to the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right.
The Values and Principles that unite us:
Highest Quality People and Community Centred Health and Wellbeing
- Everyone participates, individually and collectively, in decisions about their health and wellbeing.
- Individuals and communities receive health care that meets their needs, in a timely fashion and from the most appropriate providers, and experience the best possible results.
- Health care and other service providers work in respectful, collaborative relationships with individuals, families, and communities and each other.
- The quality of care is optimized through continuous innovation and learning to improve the experience and outcomes of those accessing care, and the efficient use of resources.
Health Equity and Social Justice
- Reduction in social inequality improves Health outcomes.
- Social inequality is reduced when all people and institutions become aware of, and act on the understanding, that inequality impacts health outcomes for the already marginalized populations.
- Equity and dignity and integrity of the person is manifest in access to nutritious food, safe and secure housing, clean water, adequate and appropriate clothing, dignified and justly-remunerated employment.
- Health care appropriate to all ages and stages of life, and mechanisms of fulsome engagement and participation in civic, social and political processes.
Community Vitality and Belonging
- Safe and caring communities improve health outcomes.
- Shared values and shared vision strengthen belonging.
- All members of the community have opportunities to participate in decision making about their communities.
- Public, private sectors and community organizations work together to strengthen inclusive, caring and connected communities.
The Values That Guide Our Work Are:
- Equity: We champion an equitable, inclusive and respectful primary health care system.
- Leadership: We challenge the status quo with integrity and transparency and are catalysts for system innovation.
- Collaboration: We embrace community driven cooperation and partner to influence change.
- Knowledge: We act and learn from a community informed and evidence-based approach
The Association of Ontario’s Health Centres (AOHC)
Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre is a member of The Association of Ontario’s Health Centres (AOHC), Ontario’s voice for community-governed primary health care.
The AOHC represents over 100 community-governed primary health care organizations. Its membership includes Ontario’s Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, Community Family Health Teams and Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics. Together we share a strong commitment to advance health equity and recognize that access to the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right.