Health Care Centres

What is a Community Health Care Centre?

Community Health Centres (CHCs) have been in existence in Canada since the 1920’s; today there are over 300 CHCs in Canada, most of them in Ontario and Quebec.

CHCs apply a unique approach. They understand that a number of factors influence health and well-being. Individuals and families work closely with health providers to improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. Community members also participate in initiatives that reduce community wide social and environmental problems in the areas served by the CHC. Some example problems that may be addressed include education, employment, food security, community safety etc.

Other distinct features of CHCs:

  • CHC staff work in inter-professional teams. In addition to doctors and nurses, they employ social workers, health promoters, community educators, nurse practitioners and physiotherapists. Team members work together to provide more complete care and support for the individuals, families and communities being served.

  • CHCs are grounded in a community development approach. The mix of programs and services each CHC offers is custom-made to respond to the community. Planning for a CHC includes asking community members to identify individual or community health issues requiring the most urgent attention. This process of community input continues once the CHC opens and begins to provide programs and services.

  • CHCs are community-governed. Volunteer boards of directors are made up of community members with experience about what is affecting health in their community. They offer on-going guidance on how we can maximize our positive impact.

CHCs are much more than just a doctor or dentist’s office. Advocates of this model argue that CHCs are the solution to primary health care reform. For more information about CHCs, visit the links below.