Planned Parenthood Toronto
Our Impact Why We Exist
We are a pro-choice community health centre that advances and advocates for the sexual health, health, and well-being of youth.
A future of sexual and reproductive choice, freedom and possibilities.
Our Story What We Do
Planned Parenthood Toronto (PPT) began in 1960, when George and Barbara Cadbury read about TorontoPharmacist Harold Fine who had been arrested for providing information on contraception. The Cadburys were established family planning pioneers and Fine's arrest inspired them to organize the first meeting of the Planned Parenthood Association of Toronto. The Cadburys then went on to lead a media campaign to amend the criminal code and, in 1969, the dissemination of birth control became legal. Following this success, PPT became a registered charitable organization and began to create programs that provided direct sexual health services.
By 1983, The House Teen Health Centre for youth ages 13 to 25 opened its doors for the first time and in 1990 became a licensed Community Health Centre renamed as Planned Parenthood Toronto. The agency continues to innovate with new programs designed to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth.
Accolades and Accomplishments
In June 2013 PPT received two awards from the provincial Association of Ontario Health Centres. The awards included “Innovators of the Year” for our Teen Texting Service which allows youth to text in their sexual health questions and have their question responded to by a volunteer youth educator. In its first year the program reached over 1500 youth. The second award was the “Health Equity Award” for out Queering Sex Ed Project that creates sexual health resources for and by LGBTQ youth. The site has received over 150,000 visits to date.
In 2005 our Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia Project (T.E.A.C.H) was recognized by Pride Toronto as an Honoured Group. T.E.A.C.H also was awarded the Access, Equity and Human Rights award by the City of Toronto. T.E.A.C.H volunteers deliver 159 workshops to over 3,800 youth annuallyund:white'>By 1983, The House Teen Health Centre for youth ages 13 to 25 opened its doors for the first time and became a licensed Community Health Centre in 1990. Now, renamed as Planned Parenthood Toronto, we are a population based Community Health Centre with a specific mandate to serve youth across Toronto. As a result we offer a full range of health services, including primary health, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health services for youth ages 13 to 29, including health promotion and research The agency continues to innovate with new programs designed to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth.
Our Programs How We Do It
PPT offers numerous programs and services both within our centre and beyond in the community. Our services range from clinical programs, to mental health services, to case coordination/advocacy, health promotion, and other community programs. Three examples include:
- Health Services
- Technology and Sexual Health
- Community Programming
At PPT Health Services means non-judgmental, innovative and client-centered care to help you to meet your health needs. PPT has an interdisciplinary health team, which means that you can come to the same place for your yearly physical, to get checked for an STI, to see a therapist, be referred to a specialized service when we cannot provide the service directly, and can help you find other non-health related services within Toronto. You’ve got questions and we’ve got questions. If you’re between 13-29 you can access any of our services and be confident that you will be treated respectfully.
We also have a new satellite site called EdgeWest which is operated in partnership with Davenport Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre. EdgeWest is a youth clinic located at 1900 Davenport open three days a week serving youth from the Toronto's West End.
Providing clients with free comprehensive care from an interdisciplinary that meets their physical and mental health is one of the cornerstones of the type of client centered care we offer at PPT. One 24 year old client shared her story with PPT. She initially accessed PPT through our mental health care services. Her depression and anxiety was making it difficult for her to leave her unhealthy relationship and maintain employment. When our clinician prescribed medications she didn’t have the resources to cover the associated costs. Our Case Coordinator advocated for our client and ultimately had her medications were covered by insurance. The client continues to access therapy at PPT. She now has her anxiety under control, she has obtained employment and has found independent housing. She tells our therapist that she is getting more in touch with her own core needs and wishes while also finding the strength to make healthy life choices. Coordinating between specialists, therapists and primary health professionals is critical to providing client centered care, particularly in complex cases such as the example above.
Toronto's Vital Signs
According to Toronto's Vital Signs Report 2013 youth unemployment rate in Ontario sits at 11.1% while unemployment among the general population has returned to pre recession rates at about 8%. However youth continue to face housing instability in an ever more expensive city. Lack of employement and high costs of living put incredible stress on youth which in turn impacts their health and wellness. PPT attempts to address this through coordinated care and access to a Case Coordinator who can work with our clients to find employment and stable housing.
Technology and Sexual Health
Technology rapidly becoming the most influential force impacting every part of our daily lives; at PPT we are committed to becoming leaders in the application of technology to improve health.
PPT has developed several platforms for embedding technology into our services. We started with an online chat program where youth could chat with peer volunteers and ask sexual health questions. As this program evolved we introduced a similar program that allowed youth to send text messages with their questions and get real time answers from peer volunteers. In 2013 we launched Canada’s first online therapy program for youth. This program impacted over 25 youth who participated in weekly therapeutic groups on issues such as depressions, healthy relationships and anxiety. Providing space online for youth means youth who face barriers such as work or family commitments, physical challenges, or mental illness can now participate in therapeutic groups. In the future PPT will continue to strive to introduce new technologies into our practice. Some areas we are exploring are sexual health apps, online clinic registration and real time client feedback.
Toronto Vital Signs
Marginalized youth such as radicalized and LGBTQ youth are far less likely to feel comfortable discussing issues of gender and sexuality with their teachers, coaches, families or peers. This lack on discourse fuels stigma and misinformation which in turn puts youth at risk. However youth do feel comfortable asking questions and getting information online. Toronto has made a commitment to extending access to technology to all residents through programs at the Toronto Public Library. PPT is ensuring that once online, youth have safe and trusted resources to find the answers to their questions.
Planned Parenthood Toronto strongly believes in community health promotion, helping the people gain the skills and information they need to make informed choices. Through workshops ranging from birth control options to breaking down barriers to healthcare for young men, we help to expand the knowledge of youth and women in Toronto. Our workshops are offered everywhere from schools to shelters to other community agencies. Our advertising campaigns are instantly recognizable and are used to raise awareness of sexual health issues, like STI testing. Hugely successful, they help to further our mission to promote healthy choices throughout the city.
Access to judgment free sex-positive sexual health information is limited in Toronto. However through our workshops youth are able to ask questions and get the information they need to make informed choices. Our programs also address anti-homophobia and help to create safe spaces in schools, shelters and community centres for youth to discuss sexuality. Participants tell us that PPT contributes to their community because we are:
- “Talking about issues of sexual health are not just female and male but as well in the bisexual and homosexual communities!”
- “Providing a non-judgmental place to talk about sexuality”
- “Provide resources that are not necessarily available everywhere and not to youth.”
Toronto Vital Signs
According to the Toronto’s Vital Signs 2013 Report “almost two-thirds of Canadian LGBTQ students and 61% of students with LGBTQ parents say they feel unsafe at school.” LGBTQ youth face greater rates of verbal and physical harassment, abuse, sexual harassment and other homophobic/transphobic harassment. Our workshops attempt to directly address these issues by engaging with youth across the city.
- Toronto Central Local Health Integration Networks
- United Way Toronto
- The City of Toronto
- Pride and Remembrance Run
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Private Donations
What You Can Do
Although health services receives the bulk of our funding from the Toronto Central LHIN we are always fundraising for capital upgrades, new equipment for our clinic, and funds to provide compassionate stock birth control and medications to youth unable to purchase these independently.
Access to affordable birth control should be easy for any youth who wants to maintain control over their sexual health. For $10/month you can provide one low-income youth with birth control and make affordable family planning a reality.
Technology and Sexual Health
PPT is continually exploring options for building our ability to provide services online and through emerging technologies. Experience creating online platforms and integrating systems with existing databases is an area in need of capacity building.
With the support of donors, volunteer programmers and other IT specialists PPT will be able to create new online spaces for youth to access sexual health information and therapeutic support.
Many of the workshops PPT offers are dependent on the generous support of volunteers, donations and grants. However, producing up-to-date sexual health literature, purchasing workshop materials and developing/producing public advertising campaigns can become costly for the organization requiring ongoing fundraising through monthly and annual giving as well as third party fundraising activities.
Any size donation to PPT is directed immediately to client serving activities. PPT benefits from monthly giving to support out public education campaigns that run throughout the year.