Community Health & Social Services Infrastructure Fund To Bring Services Closer to Ontarians


    TORONTO, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - The opportunity to vastly improve the quality
and accessibility of services provided to Ontarians in their communities is
behind the work now underway to establish a Community Health & Social Services
Infrastructure Fund (CHSSIF) in response to the economic challenges facing
Ontario. The Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), the Ontario
Community Support Association (OCSA) and the Ontario Federation of Community
Mental Health and Addiction Programs (OFCMHAP) look forward to working with
the Ontario Government on this critical project.
    The Community Health & Social Services Infrastructure Fund presents an
unprecedented and historic opportunity to put a down payment on Ontario's
future community health & social services' infrastructure to meet growing
demand, while creating jobs for workers in small and mid-sized construction
and related companies. These initiatives will stimulate the economy in rural
and urban communities throughout Ontario.
    Under the sponsorship of a Community Health Centre, Community Support
Service Agency or a Community Mental Health & Addiction Programs provider, we
envision under one roof: community health centres, supportive housing,
community support services, community mental health & addiction services,
wellness centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres - the possibilities are
endless and will be determined by communities across the province. Not only
will this better serve the needs of Ontarians, especially those facing
barriers to accessing service, it also advances the integration goals of the
Government and Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) by enhancing
community partnerships and reducing the overhead costs for local service
providers.
    This Infrastructure Fund would also implement many of the recommendations
in the Government of Ontario's Breaking the Poverty Cycle report, including
the Oral Health Plan, the Roots of Youth Violence Report, and other Ontario
Government priorities like the Aging at Home Strategy, quality family health
care, and the enhancement of access to mental health and addiction services in
local communities.
    The upcoming Ontario Budget 2009 offers a timely opportunity to
demonstrate leadership and vision by establishing this Infrastructure Fund as
a legacy that will build the foundation for strong, collaborative
multi-sectoral initiatives serving the needs of communities across the
province.Community Health & Social Services Infrastructure Fund (CHSSIF)
                                 Backgrounder

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    WHO WE ARE
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC)

    AOHC provides leadership for the promotion, advocacy, education and
development of Community Health Centres (CHCs), Aboriginal Health Access
Centres (AHACs) and Community Family Health Teams (CFHTs). Our vision is for
all Ontarians to have access to not-for-profit, community-governed,
interprofessional primary health care.

    Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA)

    OCSA is a provincial association that supports, promotes and represents
the common goal of its members, which are providers of community based
not-for-profit health and social services, so that they are better able to
support people to live at home in their own communities.

    Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs
(OFCMHAP)

    OFCMHAP bring together community mental health and addiction services in
the province of Ontario to help members provide effective, high-quality
services through information sharing, education, advocacy and united effort.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    INTRODUCTION
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------Three of Ontario's leading not-for-profit provincial community
organizations, the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), the Ontario
Community Support Association (OCSA) and the Ontario Federation of Community
Mental Health and Addiction Programs (OFCMHAP) have joined together to work
with the Ontario Government to expand existing infrastructure initiatives
through the establishment of a Community Health & Social Services
Infrastructure Fund in response to the economic challenges facing Ontario. It
is important for Ontario to include Community Health and Social Service
Infrastructure Initiatives in negotiating with the Federal Government about
the Budget 2009 infrastructure funding that will be coming to the province.
    The Community Health & Social Services Infrastructure Fund would assist
the Government to stimulate the economy in rural and urban communities
throughout Ontario and create jobs for workers in small and mid-sized
construction and related companies. While stimulating the economy, the
Infrastructure Fund would meet community infrastructure needs. Under one roof
we envision community health centres, community supports, mental health and
addiction services, supportive housing, wellness centres, Aboriginal Health
Access Centres - the possibilities are endless and will be determined by local
communities. Not only will this better meet the needs of many Ontarians,
especially those facing barriers to accessing service, it also advances the
integration goals of the Government and Local Health Integration Networks
(LHINs) by developing partnerships and reducing service provider overhead
costs.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    OUR VISION
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------The Community Health & Social Services Infrastructure Fund (CHSSIF) will
build on current and planned upgrading of existing over-burdened buildings and
establish new Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Aboriginal Health Access
Centres (AHACs) with enhanced capacity to co-locate with other community
partners. The goal is to bring together health providers, mental health and
addiction programs and community services that support the transformation and
integration of community health and social services to better serve Ontarians
in their own communities, and to help meet the economic goals of the
Government of Ontario.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    THE IMPACT
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to acting as a stimulus to help meet the economic goals of the
Government of Ontario, the Investment Fund would significantly contribute to
the progress on other critical Government priorities, including:
    -   The Government's anti-poverty initiative (Breaking the Cycle)
    -   The Oral Health Plan
    -   The health system wait-times initiative
    -   Improved access to quality family health care
    -   The need to support vulnerable populations, including those with
        mental illness, by increasing access to housing, employment supports
        and community spaces
    -   The Aging at Home Strategy
    -   The recommendations of the Government commissioned Roots of Violence
        reportA priority would be made to ensure the initiatives' construction plans
are Green-friendly and energy efficient, and that the buildings meet the new
standards in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
    The CHSSIF would also mitigate the negative outcomes when services are
not available in the right place for local populations facing barriers in
accessing care including:-   Long waiting lists for necessary services
    -   Increased use of other, more expensive institutional services
    -   Increased pressure on emergency rooms and hospital beds
    -   Inappropriate use of prescriptions, leading to health complications
    -   Increased pressure on health and social services, and most notably,
        ambulatory, police and correctional services
    -   Increased stress on consumers/clients, families and communities
    -   Loss of human resource capacity and productivity for Ontario
        businesses
    -   Increased costs to the health care system as a wholeThe CHSSIF will draw on local health and social service providers,
employment support resources, addiction and mental health programs to build
sustainable partnerships which will stimulate the economy in the short- and
mid-term, and support the health and social service needs of communities in
the long-term.
    It will offer a unique opportunity to trigger critical shifts in the way
community health and social services are offered to people in communities,
ensuring the relevance and sustainability of these services.
    The CHSSIF will achieve positive results for our mutual clients, as we
enhance linkages with each other and with our other partners in the community,
across sectors.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Examples of Existing and/or Developing Community Health & Social Service
    Infrastructure Initiatives
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------The Langs Farm Community Health Centre, Waterloo Wellington LHIN

    This Centre is located in Cambridge and has a proven track record of
being a community partnership model. The organization fulfills its strategic
direction of creating "meaningful places, spaces and partnerships" by being
co-located with three community partners and works with 15 community partners
to provide 18 social, health, recreational, educational and vocational
services on site. The decentralization of services ensures that residents have
access to a wide spectrum of programs and an increased understanding of what
is available in the community. In addition to the Community Health Centre,
there are counseling services, public health programs, seniors fitness
programs and a pharmacy.

    Prince Edward County, South East LHIN

    Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors office is located in a
building that serves as a community hub in the town of Picton, South East
LHIN. Its ideal location makes it ideal to house a number of community
services which complement each other in various ways. Clients use services
such as the volunteer transportation program offered by Community Care, the
Learning Centre to complete Grade 12 equivalency, the Ontario Disability
Support Program, (ODSP), vocational services, and the Volunteer Income Tax
Program. Building space is also utilized by caregiver support programs and
health clinics.

    Bathurst-Finch Community Services, Toronto Central LHIN

    New Heights Community Health Centres (New Heights CHC) provides primary
health care, health promotion and community capacity building programs to
people living in the CHCs' catchment area. Bathurst-Finch Community Services
    (BFCS) is co-located with the Bathurst- Finch satellite CHC. BFCS enables
community members to get support and advice from a variety of community and
social service agencies. These agencies focus their work in areas such as
settlement (for newcomers to Canada), employment, mental health, and the arts,
and/or on target populations such as women, youth and seniors. BFCS also
enables community members to access space for their own activities and
purposes. Among its partners are the Downsview Services to Seniors, Victorian
Order of Nurses, Family Services Toronto, Hong Fook Mental Health Association,
North York Women's Centre, and Vietnamese Youth & Family Social Services.

    The Mel Lloyd Centre, Shelburne, Dufferin County, Central West LHIN

    The Mel Lloyd Centre serves the needs of seniors in the community through
programs like County Community Support Services, the Adult Day Program, and
the Shelburne Meals on Wheels Program as well as providing facility-based
care. Many partners have contributed to make this community hub a success: a
Federal/Provincial re-development grant, a Ministry of Health and Long Term
Care Primary Health Care Transition fund grant for leasehold improvements,
furnishings and equipment for a medical clinic for the Mel Lloyd Family Health
Team.
    A 22 unit apartment complex that provides supportive housing for persons
with physical disabilities and frail elderly persons was a partnership between
the Ontario March of Dimes, the County of Dufferin and Strong Start funding
through the CMHC/Ontario New Affordable Housing Program Agreement. And,
recently Ontario Early Years Centre-Dufferin relocated to the Centre.

    Kawartha Lakes, Central East LHIN

    Community Care Kawartha Lakes (a community support agency) is developing
an integrated health/ social services model whereby it is converting into an
agency which will offer both community support services as well as the primary
care services through the Community Health Centre. In addition to the
integration of services, dialogue is taking place with the Community
Independent Living sector to explore joint tenancy as well as a private sector
rehabilitation company for other tenancy in the same building - to make good
use of space and co-location for improved client service.
    The ability to fund positions using the Community Health Centre and
Community Support Service Agency's budgets are a perceived benefit of the
integrated model, particularly related to finance, technology and human
resources - all these positions will have part of their budget from CSS and
the other from the CHC budget, enabling a more effective team.
    There are also plans to build a Supportive Housing Project adjacent to
the CHC. There is a collaborative arrangement with Community Living, Kawartha
Participation Projects, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the City
for rent supplements for 20 additional units.




For further information: Francois L'Ecuyer, Communications Manager,
Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), (416) 236-2539 Ext 233,
francois@aohc.org