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Univi Health Centre is a member of the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC). The AOHC was officially incorporated November 30, 1982, but the idea and spirit that lead to its formation started long before. In fact, its formation was natural and inevitable. The AOHC came into being as programs and funding systems evolved to promote primary health care and health promotion programs in Ontario.
Health centres in Ontario have existed since the mid-70s. A notable exception to this is the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, which opened earlier in 1962. In 1975, there was no distinction between Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Health Centres and Community Health Service Organizations (CHSOs). At that time, all centres were considered experimental pilot projects and the Ministry of Health funding was based on that premise. All centres were funded through capitation payment mechanisms. However, centres that were not considered financially viable were given a program budget with the intent to convert into capitation as soon as a centre achieved financial viability. The latter, now operating as CHCs, stayed with the program budget as the preferred way to fund the type of programs, operation and philosophy by which these centres delivered their programs and services.
Individuals representing a variety of “health centres” informally discussed the need to form an organization to enable them to address matters of mutual interest and concern. Committed to the concept of primary health care, representatives of health centres set up an association which, in their opinion, was “An Idea Whose Time Has Come” as highlighted by the same theme for the Association’s first Symposium and Meeting.
Period of Growth
In 1982, then Minister of Health, Larry Grossman, announced that CHCs and CHSOs were no longer “experimental pilot projects” but would be a part of mainstream health care services. Targets were set for annual growth rates so that the CHC and CHSO component of the system would grow across the province. Minister Grossman also provided financial support for the creation and activities of the Association of Ontario Health Centres.
Under then Health Minister Murray Elston and Elinor Caplan, health centres began to thrive. In 1987, Premier David Peterson announced the government’s intent to double within five years the number of Ontario residents receiving primary health care through alternative funding arrangements.
By November 30, 1989, 93.75% of the Premier’s target had been achieved. Back in 1985 there were 11 CHCs in operation serving approximately 29,000 people. By March 31, 1990 there were 76 HSOs serving 450,000 people and 32 CHCs serving a population of 110,000.
Period of Transition
In 1994, Ontario’s Auditor General posed questions about the CHC program in Ontario. It was decided that the province would freeze funding for the creation of new centres until CHCs were able to collect and submit data to demonstrate their purpose and effectiveness as a provincial program. Concurrently, AOHC had been working with member centres on evaluation assessments which produced five key themes on which the current Evaluation Framework is collecting data. This work is ongoing among all CHCs in partnership with AOHC and the Ministry of Health.
In 1997, Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs) began to join the Association. These centres are funded through the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy, which is a partnership among a number of Aboriginal Political Territorial Organizations, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Women’s Directorate, and the Solicitor General’s Office. AHACs were modeled after CHCs; however, they have made traditional healing practices an integral part of their work.
Early in 1999, satellites were funded in Chelmsford and Hanmer (Centre de santé communautaire de Sudbury) and Armstrong Health Clinic (Ogden-East End CHC). In May 1999, Minister of Health Elizabeth Witmer announced a lifting of the funding freeze. Soon after, two new CHCs and one satellite were announced, the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, Grand Bend and Area Rural Community Primary Health Care Centre and Crysler, a satellite to Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie (Cornwall).
A Bright Future
In April 2004 and November 2005, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recognized the tremendous achievements of CHCs and their critical role within the health system, announcing the largest ever expansion of the CHC program in the province’s history by announcing a total of 21 new CHCs and 28 new CHC satellites. As of 2010, there are 53 CHCs and 28 CHC satellites.
Since 2006 the Ministry also announced the creation of 200 Family Health Teams. After significant advocacy, the Government recognized community governed FHTs. Today we have 25 Community Family Health Teams in Ontario.
In 2009-10 the Government also announced 25 Nurse Practitioner clinics. To date one community governed NP Clinic has joined AOHC.
2007, 2008, 2009
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