CHCs Work for Ontario’s Health Community Health Centres help lower emergency department usage and address people’s health needs in the community. And here’s the proof.

For Immediate Release

Evidence shows that Community Health Centres (CHCs) keep people healthier, out of the emergency department, and help save the system money

(September 25, 2023 – Toronto, ON) --. As health care leaders across Ontario and Canada continue to grapple with health system challenges, evidence continues to accumulate that one of the most important components to transforming our health system for sustainability is access to comprehensive primary health care and health promotion services.

“We’ve heard Community Health Centres (CHCs) are often said to be expensive and ineffective when compared to other primary care models in Ontario, but this is based on outdated data,” said Sarah Hobbs, CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities. “Current data shows that as a sector, community health centres see as many or more patients actively a year as other models and are an effective model making contributions to the health system in important ways.”

  • CHCs provide care for populations that are 68% more complex, on average, compared to the average Ontarian. Despite this complexity, clients served at CHCs go to emergency departments less than expected – saving the health system over $27 million every year.
  • The average cost per patient for clinical primary care is similar between CHCs and FHTs ($483 and $430 respectively in 2022/23) when costs are adjusted for age, sex and clinical diagnoses.

The Alliance for Healthier Communities and its members believe that all primary care models are important and contribute to the health system. However, the evidence shows, and it’s time to let everyone in on the best kept secret in Ontario, that CHCs serve people who face the most barriers in our community, providing culturally safe and equitable care while still being cost effective. CHCs are part of the solution in the system transformation that is needed to address the healthcare crisis in Ontario.

For additional information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Jason Rehel

Public and Media Relations Specialist

Alliance for Healthier Communities



About the Alliance for Healthier Communities

The Alliance for Healthier Communities is a vibrant network of 111 community-governed, inter-professional comprehensive primary health care organizations. Alliance members serve diverse communities across the province, and they are rooted in the communities they serve. They share a commitment to advancing health equity through the delivery of comprehensive primary health care.


Community Health Centres, first introduced in Ontario in the 1960s, provide access to comprehensive primary health care for people who experience barriers all across the province in urban, suburban, rural and northern communities. CHCs do this through direct provision of services such as primary care via salaried physicians and nurse practitioners.

Part of the comprehensive care includes a full team of providers that can include: dietitians, social workers, chiropodists, physiotherapists, mental health professionals, peer support workers, system navigators and more. Health promotion, community development and other social and community support services are delivered in many Ontario communities through this integrated model of health and wellbeing. This model allows for people to be cared for by one team, instead of having to navigate sometimes complex referral and continuity of care planning on their own. CHCs also open their doors to the community and provide services and programs to people who do not receive their medical care directly from CHCs.

The evidence is in – and it consistently shows that CHCs expand access to programs and services overall, better serve marginalized people by improving outcomes and reducing emergency department use, and overall save health system spending. They also help support other allied health care and social services providers to better serve people along the continuum of care.

Monday, September 25, 2023