How do we reach street youth, isolated seniors, the poor and homeless, immigrants or people battling addictions with healthcare? Good question - here are 3 areas to consider.

Some of the most powerful and inspirational stories in healthcare come from the frontlines. They are amazing stories that deserve a broader audience. More Canadians need to know about the issues, challenges and triumphs on the frontlines.
Oct 27, 2010 9:24 AM ET

Frontline Health is a program with an admittedly ambitious goal: improving the capacity of Canada's healthcare system to serve marginalized populations. Across Canada, many people are beyond the reach of our mainstream healthcare system. Some live on the margins of society. Some live far away. Some live just around the corner.

Throughout the country, there is a remarkable group of healthcare practitioners who have chosen to respond to this challenge. They are innovators, providing not only critical healthcare but health promotion and community services aimed at keeping people well.


Building the Frontline Health program has involved a great deal of time, reflection and communication. Building relationships with leaders in the field of frontline health has helped us shape and direct the focus of the program.

 Three areas of focus

Working with our partners, Frontline Health focuses on three areas:

  • Creating networks to connect frontline practitioners so they can share resources;

  • Championing the work of those on the frontlines by uncovering the stories of innovation and dedication and revealing them to the world;

  • Supporting innovation and learning by connecting with the organizations and academic institutions best positioned to make an immediate difference on the frontlines of health.

Building networks

When we spoke with frontline healthcare workers about their needs we realized just how disconnected they are from their peers. Their choice to work on the frontlines, with often-ignored populations or in remote towns, has marginalized them from mainstream health networks. Little infrastructure exists to connect frontline workers so they can share and learn from one another. Through Frontline Health, we will enable frontline workers to establish and expand their networks so they can exchange information, share valuable resources and accelerate the transfer of knowledge and best practices. One pilot project is the Frontline Health Knowledge Network, an internet-based system that allows healthcare practitioners and students to connect and communicate in a secure, virtual community. Learn more about the Frontline Health Knowledge Network.

Frontline Health also connects people through hosting meetings and facilitating the delivery of conferences and roundtable sessions. In June 2007, we conducted a roundtable session through the Canadian Policy Research Network, gathering 25 practitioners, academics and policy makers focused on the frontlines of health to look at one key question: "What will it take to make Canada a world leader in meeting the health and healthcare needs of marginalized populations?" Learn more about the resources we are collecting to help build networks. When we meet leaders from the frontlines of health, whether they are doctors, nurses, social workers, educators or students, we are constantly looking for new stories of innovation and sharing the stories we have collected.



Chris Jarvis