Women, with their responsibilities for children and aging parents, are the primary consumers of health-care services. In the rural setting, a number of factors converge, putting them at a particular disadvantage. The services that do exist are narrow in scope, and often not geared to the special needs of different age, sex, ethnic and occupational groups. Access is often prohibited by distance, limiting visits to emergency situations. Unlike her urban counterpart, the rural woman does not have access to health information resources, enabling her to take preventive action to avoid potential problems.


The Ontario Rural Learning Association promotes Community Health Centers by providing a number of educational materials:

  1. A number of pamphlets and a four-part series of tape discussing how and where to establish centers.
  2. A slide/tape program has been produced to introduce the central concepts of community Health and Community Multi-Service Centers.
  3. A Needs Assessment Guide is being prepared to aid communities to fulfill the rigorous research requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Health, for funding. This Guide will ultimately provide information on the initial stages of mobilizing community support, establishing a board and the necessary sub-committees, identifying existing research, obtaining external technical expertise, and approaching various funding agencies. In keeping with the philosophy of the RLA, the emphasis is always on supporting the independence and integrity of the community.
  4. The RLA and the Erin-Wellington Advisory Group for Family Services are jointly engaged in a pilot project entitled, "Rural Youth for Health." By stimulating Erin area youths to research, stage, and evaluate a health fair, organizers are encouraging them to play an active role in maintaining their own health, and in educating members of their community.

By promoting Community Health Centers or Multi-Service Centers, the Ontario Rural Learning Association is providing a viable alternative to the disease-oriented approach to health. Through a process of study and action, rural women can define their particular health needs, and establish practical, effective programs to address them.


Hastings, J.E.F., The Community Health Centre in Canada, Health and Welfare Canada Publication, Canadian Printco Ltd., Montreal, 1972.


Ontario Rural Learning Association
P.O. Box 1204
GUELPH, Ontario
N1H 6N6

The three authors are all volunteers with the Erin-Wellington Advisory Group for Family Services.

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