For two groups devoted to community engagement and well-being, community health centres and CED practitioners do a lot of work beside, but not with each other. They should. With the trend towards a corporate-led "society of consumers" in high gear, CHCs and CED are natural allies in the fight for housing, employment, inclusion, and other social determinants of health.
"Which organizations have the capacity, the resources, and the mandate to look out for the health of communities these days?
"Not many. Community health centres, or CHCs, do in some areas, but ten years of neo-conservative politics have reduced that role in many parts of the country. A range of community development corporations, nonprofits, and charities attend to portions of the mandate, but many lack the stability, the resources and the legitimacy to be truly effective.
"As someone who has worked in both community health centres and community economic development, I contend that both these sectors can make a substantial contribution to the health of Canada's communities over the next generation. But the demonstrated capacity of CHCs to earn the trust of their constituents, to serve their well-being, and to help them express their will is of singular importance. To anyone framing a strategy of comprehensive, community-based revitalization, the CHC is a natural ally. The CED and CHC sectors can really advance the agenda of local communities if they learn how to work together and leverage their mutual strengths."