The History of the Canadain Association of Healthcare Auxilaries

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A Brief History


L’association des auxiliaires bénévoles des soins de santé du Canada

  A Brief History of the Canadian Association of Healthcare Auxiliaries

The Canadian Association of Healthcare Auxiliaries was formed in 1951, and became incorporated on April 6, 1954.  The work of the association was conducted on a volunteer basis by board members until 1981 when the Canadian Hospital Association (CHA) offered to provide a coordinator of services.  Mrs. Joan Roache became the coordinator, serving CAHA and CHA until her retirement in 1995. Since that time, CAHA has purchased administrative services but continues to retain the CHA headquarters as its permanent mailing address and CAHA is an associate member of the CHA. We continue to sit as an observer at the CHA Board meetings.

CAHA held educational and general meetings in the early 1970's and established a tradition of annual conventions in conjunction with that of the CHA. In 1998 CAHA chose an independent place and time for its Annual General Meeting as a reflection of the grass-roots nature of volunteering for the health of Canadians.

1954 marked the beginning of newsletters and the following year the association's first journal was published. The Record, The Canadian Courier and Volunteering for Health continued until 1995 when a newsletter again became the chosen method for timely communication, known as the “President’s Newsletter”.  Recently there has been another name change and the newsletter is now known as “Auxiliary Avenue”. 

Contests have been favorite public relations and motivational tools since 1956. Memorial and scholarship funds, established in the 1950's, evolved into a national education fund that was endowed by Mrs. Alexandrina McArthur McDougall of Montreal. CAHA supports a celebration of health volunteering in conjunction with Volunteer Week each spring.

The association is partially funded by fees paid on behalf of each auxiliary member of the provincial associations that comprise the CAHA.  Profits from the annual convention, products such as cookbooks, giftware and CAHA merchandise provide additional operating funds.  A beautiful floral emblem of each of the ten provincial flowers, which was developed from a painting by Gloria Miller of BC, enhances the traditional CAHA product line.

The national board of CAHA meets regularly to discuss issues affecting auxiliaries and healthcare in Canada. Over the years, three topics have dominated discussion: membership recruitment and retention, demands for funds to equip and decorate health facilities and relations with the boards that run the facilities where auxiliaries serve. The introduction of medicare in the 1960's increased the amount of money available to healthcare so that auxiliaries turned to hands-on service through the 1970's and 1980's. Fifteen years later, reduced funding for hospitals, combined with reorganization of health facility administration, shifted the focus of auxiliaries back to raising money. 

In keeping with our “brand image”, we developed an exciting new Product Line, with a new logo.  A SEAL was chosen as our mascot, the letters denoting SUPPORT, EDUCATION, ADVOCACY, and LEADERSHIP.  A catalogue was designed and distributed to advertise both traditional items and the newer “seal” of approval line: sweats, t’s, denim shirts, and golf shirts.  A stuffed seal, known as ‘Flaps’, is also available in small and large sizes.

At the close of the twentieth century, CAHA continues to provide a forum for discussion among provincial auxiliary leaders and the promotion of good practices for volunteering in health.

November 2003                                                                                           

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