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National CIW report underlines need for "upstream" health promotion and expanded access to Community Health Centres

"Ontario's health system must adopt a more proactive, preventative approach to address the many different social and economic factors that harm people's health and wellbeing," says Adrianna Tetley, CEO of the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), a provincial association that represents 107 primary health care organizations across Ontario.

Tetley's statement comes in response to today's release of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing's (CIW) national report, which reveals a massive gap between the country's GDP and Canadians' overall wellbeing - a gap that has further widened since the 2008 recession.

"This report clearly demonstrates we need better public policy that tackles health harming issues like income inequality and precarious employment," says Tetley. "But it also makes crystal clear that our health system also needs to do a much better job supporting people so they can overcome social and economic barriers to good health."

Tetley notes the CIW's call for a stronger focus on "upstream" health promotion is very timely given that Ontario's provincial government is now finalizing Bill 41, The Patients First Act, which will assign increased powers to the province's 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). However, current drafting of the legislation makes no provision for the LHINs to plan for, and invest in, health promotion.

"Before this legislation is passed, we hope the provincial government will heed the CIW's call and ensure an upstream health promotion approach is firmly embedded in the LHINs' mandate," says Tetley. "When all 14 LHINs apply this approach in a systematic way, they'll change lives for the better, reduce avoidable illness and save money for our health system, making it sustainable for future generations to come."

The association recently presented the case for a stronger health promotion focus at the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, which is now reviewing the Patients First Act, 2016. Click here to read AOHC's full submission.

AOHC also welcomes the CIW's call for expanded access to Community Health Centre model (CHCs), which it describes as "effective, efficient and affordable" delivering services to people and communities managing complex and multiple health concerns. Community Health Centres are distinct from most other primary care models in the province, because their interprofessional health teams deliver medical services, in combination with a wide range of other health promotion services and community based initiatives designed to reduce communities' social and economic barriers to good health. However, as the CIW report points out: "While CHCs have been very successful in meeting the needs of vulnerable populations....too few people have access to them."

Contact: Jason Rehel - 416-817-9518 or

Tuesday, November 22, 2016