Our History

The Sault Ste. Marie and District Group Health Association (GHA), a not-for-profit and charitable healthcare organization operating as the Group Health Centre (GHC) provides outpatient primary care, specialty care, and other community-based health services to the population of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District. 

GHC was founded in 1963 as one of Canada’s first union-sponsored community health centers. Initially funded by thousands of Sault Ste. Marie steelworkers, GHC promised its members primary and preventative care with no out-of-pocket cost at a time before provincial health insurance existed. Today over 80 Primary Care and Specialist physicians operate out of the GHC as independent professionals practising in a group setting with Nurse Practitioners, Registered and Practical Nurses, and other certified health professionals.

Governed by the GHA (a joint Community/Physician Board of Directors), GHC follows a multi-disciplinary approach to health care, focusing on health promotion and illness prevention as a large part of its mandate. GHC also operates the largest community-based diagnostic imaging clinics in the region, and its entire operation is tied together with an integrated Electronic Medical Record system. 

Since opening its doors over 60 years ago, GHC has been a leader in medical innovation and the site of countless pilot projects and studies on a provincial, national, and international level. Some of the most notable successes include being the site for a World Health Organization study on preventative care in the 60s, being one of the first sites in Canada to employ “non-traditional nurses” (now known as Nurse Practitioners) in the 70s, and being one of the first sites in Canada to move to electronic medical records in the 90s. GHC has won National Best Practice Awards, was featured in Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s top ten models of healthcare, and was once referred to as “Canada’s best-kept health care secret” by Commissioner for the Future of Health Care in Canada, Roy Romanow.