For twenty-seven years the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC) supported Healthy Communities initiatives across Ontario and beyond. Following the loss of provincial funding in 2018, after careful consideration the OHCC Board of Directors concluded that the work of OHCC had largely been accomplished. On October 19, 2019, OHCC held it final Annual General Meeting at which members unanimously voted to dissolve the corporation and transfer OHCC’s remaining assets to Green Communities Foundation. While all were saddened by this decision, the mood of the event was very positive as members reflected on OHCC’s accomplishments and confirmed their ongoing commitment to Healthy Communities.
The Healthy Communities model was first presented at a Toronto conference entitled "Beyond Health Care" in 1984, by Trevor Hancock and Leonard Duhl, and became a global movement. An informal network was established in Ontario which received provincial funding in 1992 to establish the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. The Healthy Communities approach, with its five key strategies of equitable community engagement, asset-based community development, equitable community engagement, intersectoral partnerships, political commitment and healthy public policy, continues to resonate with people of all backgrounds and in all sectors, all around the world. It is appealing because it is positive, future-directed, inclusive and action-oriented.
All OHCC’s work involved building capacity for healthy communities, integrating social, economic and environmental dimensions. Services were provided through the central office in Toronto and regionally based community consultants, focused within three major activity streams: education, engagement and collaboration. The main areas of focus for all services were community food systems, diversity and inclusion, healthy built environments and organizational development.
Over the years, OHCC succeeded in putting Healthy Communities on the agenda of hundreds of communities across Ontario. There are so many people and organizations who will continue to implement the Healthy Communities approach that even though OHCC itself is gone, the ideals of Healthy Communities will continue to be a catalyst for social change. There is now an entire generation that has grown up with such concepts and will continue to work with them.
Our Legacy, a report of the history, principles, and services of OHCC is available on the OHCC Legacy webpage, provided by Green Communities Foundation.
“The incredible learning experiences, the people involved, the work you do, and the sustainability model you offer are key centrepieces to my thinking and I continue to espouse their truths on a regular basis...So, to the Board and staff of OHCC, I say job well done and kudos. You have filled your mandate well and you should be rightly proud, and we will continue to use the principles, ethics, and models we have learned.”
-Shawn Heard, OHCC President 1998-2004
General Manager, East Algoma Community Futures Development Corporation
President, Community Futures Ontario