About Community Health Centres
CACHC ByLaws: Definition of Community Health Centre
Fact Sheet: Community Health Centres – What are they?
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRES AT A GLANCE
Community Health Centres (CHCs) currently provide care and support to over two million Canadians. However, access to CHCs varies greatly by province/territory, town and neighbourhood. While they are often named differently by province or territory — for example, Québec’s CLSCs, Alberta’s FCCs and Saskatchewan’s Co-Operative Health Centres — several essential features are common to Community Health Centres:
>> Not-for-profit, publicly-funded services
Community Health Centres across Canada are funded through the country’s publicly-funded, publicly-administered health insurance system — Medicare — in keeping with each province or territory’s responsibility for planning health services. CHCs comply with the values, principles and requirements of the Canada Health Act, and CHCs are strong proponents of the vision for a strengthened Second Stage of Medicare.
>> Team-based, interprofessional care
Community Health Centres bring diverse first-line health services and providers out from isolation and their traditional silos. Together, within the Community Health Centre, family physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, dental hygienists, health promoters, community health workers and other care providers and health program staff work as a team to deliver comprehensive care and support under a single roof.
For those receiving care and support from CHCs this means the right care, by the right providers, at the right time. Health providers are remunerated by salary, sessional fees and/or capitation rather than fee-for-service in order to place emphasis on appropriate client care and to improve collaboration among care providers.
>> Integrated, comprehensive primary health care
Community Health Centres integrate high-quality primary care services with health promotion programs, illness prevention programs and community development initiatives, in keeping with the World Health Organization’s definition and vision for primary health care.
As part of this integrated, comprehensive primary health care approach, CHCs support communities and residents to achieve health by addressing what are called “social determinants of health” — factors such as income levels, access to shelter/housing, education, language/geographical barriers and other factors that are known to have a direct impact on health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. In doing so, CHCs partner with other local agencies within the health sector and other sectors such as education, housing and justice to address the bigger picture of health.
>> Community engagement and participation
The factors affecting health and health care vary from province to territory, town to town, and community to community. That’s why CHCs are designed to focus on the most appropriate services and programs for the local community they serve. This local planning and attention to the needs of community residents is why we often say that “once you have seen one Community Health Centre you have seen one Community Health Centre!”
CHCs serve an identifiable community where individuals and families have a sense of local identity and/or collective empowerment and where they can participate in local decision-making. This includes urban and rural neighbourhoods or clusters of neighbourhoods as well as communities of individuals with common characteristics, such as youth, seniors, women and other groups.
This participatory, locally-relevant approach to health and health care extends to governance of CHCs as well. Community Health Centres are governed either by a majority of locally-representative directors on the CHC’s independent board of directors or on the board of directors of a broader health network/authority which has a community advisory committee made up of local representatives.