is St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Centre?
Women’s Health Centre (WHC) is one of four women’s health centres
funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health since 1989. The WHC provides
healthcare in response to the changing and diverse needs of the
community, addressing the broad determinants of health. The WHC
provides a spectrum of non-medical services: counselling, groups,
practical support, public awareness raising and advocacy, health
education activities, presentations, and free childcare. Services
are offered in several languages, including Tamil, Punjabi, Hindi,
Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Russian, and English, by a diverse
group of women with knowledge and multiple skills in providing health
care, emotional support, health promotion, counselling, and the
enhancement of women’s health.
The WHC model
is based on research that indicates that the reason some people
are a lot healthier than others is closely linked to socioeconomic
factors. Women are central to this approach to health improvement
because they are the primary consumers of health care services and
because they are in a unique position to influence the health of
others as our society’s primary caregivers. The WHC model assists
clients to make better sense of their ‘symptoms’ in the context
of an anti-oppression framework, in order to gain long-term control
over the direction of their lives.
Over 7 000 women
and their children used the centre in 1999/2000. Approximately 50%
of the existing client base is made up of immigrant and refugee
women and women of colour. The point of entry for women accessing
WHC services varies. Some women come to the WHC for health information,
settlement issues, skill-building workshops, parenting assistance
and practical support while living in poverty. Others seek support
and clinical services for lives ruptured by violence, such as childhood
sexual abuse and emotional abuse and neglect, adult relationship
assault, political persecution, torture, and rape. Some women request
short-term counselling for stresses related to having a new baby,
and post-partum depression. Many are seeking support and assistance
with issues related to migration and resettlement. Women also enter
the WHC through the Parkdale Parents’ Primary Prevention Project
(see detailed description on following page). All are multi-stressed.
Most are parents. Women across WHC programs are living in poverty.
Some pay up to 80% of their incomes on rent, leaving them at high
risk for permanent or cyclical homelessness.
information, please contact: