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Community Health Centres

The introduction of medicare prompted questions about the traditional approach to providing medical and hospital services. The creation of consumer-directed health facilities such as the Saskatoon Community Clinic (1962) and the Sault Ste. Marie Group Health Centre (1963) were community efforts to unite medical, nursing, nutrition and physiotherapy practitioners in a single location where diagnostic tests, physical examinations, counselling and hospital referrals could occur. In addition to ensuring patient participation, supporters claimed that these centres would eliminate duplication and cut costs. In 1972, the Department of National Health and Welfare reviewed the Report of the Community Health Centre Project to the Conference of Health Ministers, which was written by the University of Toronto’s Dr. John Hastings. This study called for community health centres that were acceptable to practitioners and their patients, “accessible and well-managed” and “part of a responsible and accountable health services system”(Report of the Community Health Centre Project to the Conference of Health Ministers [Ottawa: Information Canada, 1972], p. 1). The report was immediately challenged for its lack of data on cost savings. Critics also feared that implementation would “result in considerable regimentation of the public” and potentially cause “undesirable depersonalization of health care and social services” (“Appendix B: Physician Responses to the Hastings Report,” in Raisa Deber, ed., Case Studies in Canadian Health Policy and Management, Vol. 1 [Ottawa: Canadian Hospital Association Press, 1992], p. 253). As a result, most provincial governments, with the exception of Quebec, were slow to encourage expanded primary care through health centres in the 1970s.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010