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COVID-19 shows the vital roles primary care providers play every day for community health and wellbeing and health system cooperation in Ontario


Toronto, March 29, 2021 - During COVID-19, we see again and again across Ontario that communities – from people living in large urban centres to smaller cities to towns and rural areas – depend on their local family physicians, family health teams, community health centres, Indigenous primary health care teams, nurse practitioner-led clinics, and other primary care providers in a public health crisis. These providers and organizations are, quite literally, lifelines for the people they serve. The trusted relationships people have with their family doctors, nurse practitioners, healers, mental health professionals and other primary care providers are at the core of local COVID-19 responses, from testing and other direct COVID-19 care, to supports for food security and chronic disease management, to providing credible and culturally safe vaccination information, to knowing how to care for themselves and their loved ones. When the challenges have never been bigger, and the isolation unlike at any other time in our lives, your community providers are there.

Today, we are announcing we've formed the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC), an alliance of comprehensive primary care organizations joined together by common purpose to build on the collaborative work of COVID-19 as we move towards recovery in a time of health system transformation.

Together, our organizations represent more than 20,000 primary care providers and team members. As Ontario's primary care providers continue to support their communities through trusted local relationships, partnerships with social services and other providers, and by working with decision makers, we're committed to ensuring that health system policies and funding acknowledge primary care's vital role and place in community health and wellbeing. Speaking with one voice, we will advance shared priorities in primary care such as expanded access to teams and better links to home care and mental health supports. The PCC knows that for health care integration and transformation to work for people – for those using the health system and those looking for services to stay well – primary care needs to be the foundation of Ontario's health system. Robust and well-supported primary care is the heart of all world-class health systems, and people living in Ontario should expect no less. During COVID-19, this is a given. In recovery, when many echo effects of the pandemic will be felt for years to come, it will be of utmost importance.


"The Indigenous Primary Health Care Council appreciates the importance of this collaborative opportunity to strengthen and unify the voice of primary care practitioners across the province. Primary care is the foundation for a high quality, sustainable and integrated system; evidence shows that jurisdictions with high performing primary care place it at the centre of health care delivery. The IPHCC is especially thankful to our partners in the PCC for recognizing that our community-driven Indigenous-governed interprofessional primary care models include Traditional healers and Cultural Service Providers. This is an integral part of promoting a wholistic approach to health and wellbeing for Indigenous people. Great things can happen when the right people come together, and I look forward to advancing our vision for a robust health care system that addresses not just the physical wellbeing of an individual but to the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of the whole community." Caroline Lidstone-Jones, CEO, Indigenous Primary Health Care Council

"The Alliance for Healthier Communities' member centres provide community-based comprehensive primary health care across Ontario, and they are essential to addressing barriers to health and wellbeing that marginalized populations face. Health equity – that is, the idea that everyone deserves a chance to live their healthiest life, but that many people face barriers to doing so – is only achievable where trusted relationships can be built in and by the community. The Alliance is committed to working with our partners in the PCC to ensure the cornerstone of our health system – primary care – can continue to step up for the people in Ontario who face barriers. We have seen throughout the pandemic that we are stronger when we work together, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to build a better future." Sarah Hobbs, CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities

"The Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association is proud to be working with this strong group of primary care association leaders. Often a person's first point of contact with the health care system, primary care is integral for the health and wellbeing of not only patients, but also the communities in which they live. NPLCs have focused on whole person care since our inception, with nurse practitioner leadership at all levels of the organization. By coming together, this collaborative will provide a united voice for primary care and will allow for us to advocate for health care initiatives across the province." Jennifer Clement, Past-President, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association

"Across the world, cost-effective and high-performing health systems share a common characteristic – they are based on a foundation of comprehensive primary care, which is supported through a team. Primary care is the first point of contact into the health system; jurisdictions that commit to robust investments in primary care are able to move quicker into achieving the Quintuple Aim, ensuring there is a lens towards equitable and accessible care, close to home. AFHTO is pleased to be working with our comprehensive primary care partners to ensure there is a unified voice for primary care, especially as we move towards the daunting task of post-pandemic recovery. We know that this work can only be achieved if we truly work together and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration." Kavita Mehta, CEO, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario

"Ontarians turn to primary care more often than any other part of the health system. Providing high-quality care is truly a team sport. The Ontario College of Family Physicians is pleased to be working together with our primary care partners to create a unified voice – as family physicians, nurse practitioners, interprofessional healthcare providers and team-based primary care. This collaboration will only strengthen our ability to achieve comprehensive, continuous, coordinated and equitable health care for all patients and families across Ontario as envisioned by the Patient's Medical Home." Leanne Clarke, CEO, Ontario College of Family Physicians

"Primary care is foundational to a high performing healthcare system, and the sector is stronger when it is united. This is why the Ontario Medical Association Section on General & Family Practice (SGFP) is so pleased to be part of this newly formed Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) with our partners that also support comprehensive primary care. SGFP represents the 15,000 family doctors in Ontario in advocacy and negotiations and is dedicated to building a united vision for a more integrated, equitable and unified sector. We know that there are many challenges ahead for the healthcare system, and this past year has underscored that incredible things can happen when strong leaders come together in shared purpose. By working collaboratively during much of this pandemic, the PCC has been successful in collectively advocating for and advancing solutions that have made a positive impact on the sector and the health and wellbeing of Ontarians. SGFP is looking forward to continuing to work with PCC to bring out the best in care for Ontarians and to support primary care to thrive in our province." Dr. David Schieck, Ontario Medical Association, Section on General & Family Practice

Return to: Primary Care Collaborative Updates


Media contact for interview requests, comments or inquiries:

Paula Myers,

Manager, Membership and Communications

Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario


Phone: (647) 234-8605 extension 1200