The aggregation of social and health services have generated economic and qualitative benefits through the co-location of individual organizations (concept of “community hubs”). A few examples of such community hubs are briefly discussed below: Community Door located in Mississauga and Langs located in Cambridge.
The concept of community hubs within the public sector is a recent action plan implemented at the provincial level. The concept of multiple organizations sharing space and resources is not a new idea. However, since 2015 the Ontario government has expressed a new dedication to fostering these collaborations as a key element of the cost-efficient and effective delivery of services to Ontario’s diverse communities. This idea of space- and resource-sharing has come together through a report titled “Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan”.
There is no industry standard definition for a community hub. However, the essential feature seems to be the delivery of health, education, community and/or social services in close proximity, often through coordination between or consolidation of agencies, in response to local and regional needs.
Depending on how a community hub is structured, participating organizations can begin addressing many of their real estate challenges. Organizations may benefit from participation in a community hub arrangement that is well structured, either through agreements between the organizations and/or the creation of a separate legal entity as is the case for Langs and Community Door.
Another hub currently in the planning and approval stages is the proposed Bluewater Addictions Hub facility in Sarnia to be modelled on the community hub framework. There will be will ancillary and supporting services within the Addictions Hub facility however they are limited to primarily serving the vulnerable population that will be admitted for withdrawal management services. It is unlikely that other unrelated social or health service providers would be permitted into the facility, however, this proposed facility may become a model for addiction management in Ontario.