CACHCA to Toronto Star: Time to measure what matters and plan what counts

Letter to the Editor – The Toronto Star 

Kudos to Carol Goar for her December 3rd, 2010 article about Ontario’s Community Health Centres (CHCs). I would add that the issues she raises apply not only in Ontario, but across Canada. Goar points out that investment in new CHCs may face opposition in an era of concern over healthcare spending. However, one must ask what health system costs would be saved? And what are the other social and cost benefits?

Research from Canada, the US and abroad shows that CHCs reduce key health system costs like avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to preventable illness. And because such preventable costs come disproportionately from groups facing higher socio-economic barriers, the economic argument in favour of CHCs becomes even more compelling. Consider further that CHCs use healthcare teams. This team-based care, including family physicians, is not only more responsive and effective, it also helps us to chisel away at the single greatest health system cost driver in Canada: payments to physicians. Reduced costs, avoidable health system burdens. This allows us to then ensure that important health services are available for all Canadians when they’re truly needed.

The time is past due in Canada for us to start measuring what matters and planning what counts. CHCs across Canada embrace this challenge whole-heartedly.