Democratic Engagement and Health

In September 2014, CACHC and Canada’s Community Health Centres adopted a national members resolution re-committing to the critical role of Community Health Centres in increasing democratic engagement across Canada.

Research demonstrates that there are tangible mental and physical health benefits associated with participation in democratic discourse and processes, including voting.

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing identifies democratic engagement as a core indicator of health and wellbeing, and defines it as “the state of being involved in advancing democracy through political institutions, organizations and activities.”

Because it is an important input for individual, family and community health, CACHC and Community Health Centres (CHCs) believe that working to improve democratic engagement is not only a critical component of effective primary health care, it is essential to improve health itself.

In a very practical way, Community Health Centres (CHCs) do this every day by engaging members of local communities through programs, committees and various processes that give them a voice on issues that affect their health and the health of the community. 

“Canadian Association of Community Health Centres and its members, as non-partisan organizations, recommit to the fundamental role of Community Health Centres as civic agencies which not only provide high-quality healthcare services and programs, but also programs and initiatives that explicitly seek to improve Democratic Engagement as a key determinant of individual, family and population health.”

– 2014 CACHC Members Resolution

Are we powerless to effect change? It’s a notion that’s been popular for many election cycles. But just try telling a local community group that’s just rallied for a new service or program, that they are powerless. The truth is, there are some very achievable changes we can make to the Canadian democratic system, to get everyone a lot more engaged.

On September 17, 2015 during CACHC’s national conference in Ottawa, Kingston Community Health Centres was awarded a 2015 Agent of Change Award for its local leadership in democratic engagement. LEARN MORE about this and other 2015 Agent of Change Award winners.

On September 18, 2015 during CACHC’s national conference in Ottawa, the workshop “Democratic Engagement in Action was delivered. LEARN MORE about all activities at the conference, including focus on improving democratic engagement and the federal role in health.

Other Valuable Resources