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Groundbreaking ceremony for Thorncliffe Park Community Hub celebrated

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Michael Garron Hospital in east Toronto celebrated the groundbreaking of the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub earlier this week in collaboration with the Neighbourhood Organization (TNO) and Flemingdon Health Centre.

Following a 2014 Thorncliffe Park health gap analysis, it was found that residents in this Toronto area lacked adequate local health services.

With many of the 30,000 community members living with untreated illnesses due to social and economic disadvantage, TNO, Flemingdon Health Centre and Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) have joined forces to advocate for increased healthcare for the Thorncliffe Park population, which is largely comprised of immigrant families in need of coordinated primary healthcare.

A decade of legwork later, on Thursday, May 23, the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction of a new 6,250 square meter community space at East York Town Centre.

This new multi-service centre, construction of which began in November, will provide Thorncliffe Park residents with access to a variety of health and social services that are much needed in the community.

Jen Quinlan, CEO of Flemingdon Health Centre, told Beach Metro Community News that this resource will now help eliminate a number of barriers faced by community members.

“The first is language,” Quinlan said. “Our programs and services are available in multiple languages ​​and we also use real-time interpretation for our medical appointments, which is very important to (Thorncliffe residents).”

This is done through Health Access Thorncliffe Park (HATP), the free primary health care clinic available to all residents of the neighbourhood.

“They have free access to doctors, nurses, social workers and dietitians,” Quinlan said.

With approximately 1,500 residents expected to visit the center daily and more than 30 languages ​​spoken in the community, the center will become one of the most important elements in the effort to reduce barriers to health care, as residents are now likely to have more confidence that their needs are understood.

“Our services are also available to people without OHIP, which really helps people in this community stay healthy,” Quinlan said.

Although the majority of the $24 million pledged to the centre comes from the Ontario Ministry of Health, Quinlan said the project has several financial partners.

“This was a very community-driven process,” Quinlan said. “It was successful because the community advocated for us and worked with us and all levels of government.”

Funding partners include United Way Greater Toronto, the federal government, which funds programs to overcome language barriers, and the City of Toronto, which funds the new public dental clinic.

“The City of Toronto is pleased to have contributed to the realization of the hub and we will continue to work together as partners to ensure the hub is a success so that the people of Thorncliffe Park can access the services they need,” said Mayor Olivia Chow in a press release Thursday, May 23.

Unlike the Toronto Public Health dental clinic, many of the other services to be offered at the centre are already available across different parts of the neighbourhood.

However, once construction of the hub is complete, these programs will expand and have a central location, making it easier for local residents to access essential services.

“Families in Thorncliffe deserve convenient access to community health and social services that make life easier,” Chow said in the release. “The Thorncliffe Park Community Hub will support people by bringing all of these important services under one roof.”

The official opening of the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub is planned for the end of 2024.

Services offered include health promotion, nutrition and education, homebound senior visiting program, primary health care, diagnostic imaging and specialists, prenatal, prenatal and postnatal care, services for the uninsured, dental care, social assistance, access to community resources and event spaces, economic and community development, family services (children, youth, seniors), legal assistance and education, assistance for newcomers and immigrants, and assistance for people with disabilities.

Attendees at the May 23 groundbreaking ceremony included Chow, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen De Villa.

“Today's groundbreaking marks an important milestone for the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub project, which our government has proudly supported,” Ford said in a news release. “As East York continues to grow, this new hub will be an important link and help improve the mental and physical well-being of thousands of families, including at-risk families and newcomers to Ontario.”

— Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His work is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Amarachi Amadike, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro Community News