Our Members: Growing Stronger Together
Federal Policy and Advocacy
Federal Election 2015 and Budget 2016
On behalf of our members, CACHC implemented its first federal election campaign – Better Health, Better Care in 2015. This set an important precedent with all federal political parties and increased the visibility of the Community Health Centre voice on a variety of health and healthcare policy issues. This election, we advocated support from all political parties for federal policy and investment in: a) federal poverty-reduction strategy; b) federal housing and homelessness-reduction strategy; c) national Pharmacare program; and d) federal strategy to increase access to Community Health Centres.
We can celebrate success, together, on each of these areas of advocacy for federal policy and investment. A federal poverty-reduction strategy is now in the works and the federal government has committed to increased investment and policy development on affordable housing.
The federal Minister of Health has also committed to exploring the potential for a national Pharmacare program and has fully committed to working with the provinces on bulk purchase of prescription drugs. And, for the first time ever, a federal political party officially included funding for CHCs as a pillar of its federal election platform. In addition, we have an unprecedented level of interest from Members of Parliament in the Community Health Centre model. CACHC continues to pursue action on all of these federal issues, both through our own unique strategies and in cooperation with our federal partners including the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, Health Action Lobby, Campaign for a National Drug Strategy and others. CACHC also submitted a formal Response to Federal Budget 2016 highlighting priority concerns to the association and its members.
Francophone and Aboriginal Health
We took important steps forward in our commitment to advancing health and healthcare for and with Francophone communities and Aboriginal communities across Canada. CACHC’s bylaws recognize the distinct needs of Francophone and Aboriginal communities and mandate the association to work collaboratively with CHCs and partners to advance health and health services for these diverse communities across Canada.
Our partnership with Société santé en français enabled us to produce the first ever federal study of access to appropriate primary health care for Francophone populations in minority contexts: EN – A Scan and Study of Primary Health Care Models for Francophone Communities in Minority Settings Across Canada / FR – État de la situation et étude de modèles de soins de santé primaires offerts aux Francophones vivant en situation minoritaire au Canada. And, through a renewed partnership with Aboriginal CHCs across Canada we initiated a process for education and advocacy, beginning with a three-part Aboriginal Cultural Safety educational series.
Our advocacy against the 2012 federal cuts to refugee health coverage (IFHP) increased in 2015. In partnership with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), we were formally accepted by the Federal Court of Appeal as an intervener in the case to rescind the federal government’s cuts and took both legal action (through pro bono counsel) and carried forward public advocacy. In early 2016 our joint efforts paid off as the new federal government announced a complete reversal of the 2012 IFHP cuts.
With the new federal government’s change of course on refugee assistance, CACHC and our members also jumped quickly into action this year to document and help coordinate care and support for incoming Syrian refugee newcomers. Our recent national casebook has been distributed to all 338 Members of Parliament (see letter), to provincial governments and to key federal agencies, building awareness of CHCs and the diverse ways in which CHCs act as critical healthcare and social service fabric in the community.
As the federal government and the provinces and territories begin to negotiate a new federal/provincial Health Accord and long-term funding arrangement for healthcare, CACHC has been closely involved. Our participation on the Implementation Committee of the Health Action Lobby (HEAL) means CHCs have a strong voice with a leading national partnership that has official status at the federal level. Our shared recommendation of The Canadian Way as a blueprint for priority investments via a new Health Accord means that primary health care is prominently featured as one of three areas for investment in healthcare innovation. Specifically, HEAL calls for investment “to accelerate the implementation of evidence-based, community-based primary health care, with inter-professional delivery models at the local level” (The Canadian Way, p. 8).
CACHC is commited to harm reduction programming as key to improving health and wellbeing, public health and safety, and health system effectiveness. In 2015, CACHC took action by formally opposing the federal government’s Bill C2, which places discriminatory new pressures on community service providers working to open/operate supervised injection services (SIS). CACHC continues to call for a repeal of this legislation. The association also recognized federal leadership by awarding a 2015 Agent of Change Award to Toronto Public Health for its formal recommendation of SIS in Toronto. CACHC has also recently deputized in support of this with Toronto’s Board of Health. This would make Toronto the second jurisdiction, after Vancouver, to make SIS available as a means of saving lives, creating a pathway to recovery, and improving individual and public health. CACHC’s Harm Reduction Discussion Forum acts as a locus for information exchange, mobilization, and advocacy.
We gathered in Ottawa this past September for CACHC’s second biennial conference. Together, we demonstrated the sort of inspiring vision for health and healthcare innovation that is possible when Community Health Centres combine forces. We learned from global partners and we engaged a diversity of national partners in a shared vision to expand access to CHCs and to address social determinants of health through improved federal policy and investment. We also set the stage for our next national conference, a true community conference that will take place in Calgary from September 25-27, 2017.
Increasing CHC Knowledge-Exchange
Through our national Knowledge and Networking Hub for Community Health Centre staff and board members, we continued to build a collaboration nation among Community Health Centres from coast to coast to coast. The KNhub continues to build momentum and offers a menu of forums, webinars, tools and other resources that grows each month.
KNhub by the numbers
Archived KNhub Webinars
KNhub Resource Directory
Fostering a Federation of CHC Associations
Experience has shown that no single provincial network of CHCs (regardless of how strong) is safe from the threat of negative political winds. In order for Community Health Centres to truly thrive and flourish across Canada, CHCs must find healthy roots at both the federal level and across the provinces. In 2015-16, CACHC continued to support the establishment or expansion of provincial CHC networks, including establishment of the new Alberta Association of CHCs and important forward momentum for emerging CHC associations in British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. In September 2015, as part of the biennial CACHC conference, CACHC brought together CHC leaders from across Canada for a special full-day, pre-conference session aimed at building provincial CHC movements and strength across provinces through a collaborative federal approach.
Growing Our International CHCs Network
Since joining forces with global partners in 2013 to launch the International Federation of Community Health Centres, our commitment to connecting members with global Community Health Centre allies has strengthened. All members of CACHC are automatically members of the IFCHC. We took important steps forward in 2015-16 through our first official international CHCs study tour. With leadership from CACHC, a team of CHC leaders from Canada and the U.S. spent 10 days in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia learning from and building partnerships with Australian CHC counterparts. This formal visit has since sparked a series of global learning sessions and plans to expand mutual learning opportunities among CHCs in Australia, Canada and the U.S.
Also in 2015-16, we seized important opportunities to continue evolving our global networks and to put CHCs on the map with other global organizations. In October 2015, CACHC and CHC association colleagues from the U.S., Europe and Australia jointly presented on the role and impact of CHCs at the 39th World Hospital Congress in Chicago. CACHC was represented by Bill Davidson, Executive Director of Langs Community, Health, Wellness, a CHC based in Cambridge, Ontario. CACHC also hosted three global learning sessions at our 2015 conference in Ottawa, including panelists from CHCs and CHC associations in Australia, Romania, South Africa and the U.S. Visit the CACHC conference webpage for details.
Amplifying CHC Messaging
One of the best ways that CACHC can increase visibility and awareness of CHCs is by amplifying the messages and examples coming from CHCs themselves, especially our members. Through our persistent social media presence, our promotion of the national CHC Careers Directory, our curated “CHCs in the News” webpage, and our ongoing work at federal partnership tables, CACHC continues to shine the light on our members and to re-broadcast and amplify CHC messages from neighbourhoods and communities across Canada. At the same time, we are supporting CHC staff recruitment and retention efforts and public relations efforts. We are also making it easier for a wide variety of stakeholders and the general public to identify and connect with local CHCs through different communications channels and tools.
The National Jobs/Careers at Community Health Centres directory has become a widely-used, go to resource for individuals looking for opportunities in community primary health care across Canada.
Our Community Health Centres directory enables the public to search and locate our member Community Health Centres across the country. In-depth information about our CHC Members helps build awareness about Canada’s CHCs.
Our curated Community Health Centres in the News feature section allows the public to access the latest local news from CHCs and to connect the local to a larger national picture regarding the role of CHCs and the need to expand access to CHCs.
Following a couple of challenging start-up years, CACHC continued to build on its successful third year of operations, achieving a balanced budget once again in 2015-16.
In 2012, CACHC’s Board of Directors committed to the association’s membership that it would achieve an operating reserve of $70,000 by 2017-18 in order to insure against future financial instability. As of March 31, 2016 CACHC has nearly reached that target, over one year ahead of schedule.
While the association continues to operate on a limited operating budget, the need to operate within these tight parameters has forced the association to work creatively and to find efficiencies and economies of scale in its daily operations. As the association continues to demonstrate its value to members, the prospect for an increased membership and future growth is promising.
CACHC continues to operate on a principle of financial transparency through our Board of Directors and members.
Our 2015-16 Financial Statements are available for review.