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What is St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Centre?

Women's Health Centre LogoSt. Joseph’s 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.

For more information, please contact:

St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Centre
30 The Queensway
Toronto, ON M6R 1B5
T: (416) 530-6318
F: (416) 530-6629
E-mail: [email protected]


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