Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op (Edmonton)

Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op (MCHB) began 24 years ago to support Edmonton’s newcomers. The goal was to enhance the health and well-being of families, and foster their efforts at building community so they could thrive, and actively contribute to society. Our cultural brokers are from immigrant communities, and know first hand the social, economic, and language difficulties that immigrants and refugees face. This places us in a unique position to bridge the gap between newcomer families and Canadian society.

What is the CHW called?  Multicultural Health Brokers

Who is the target population? Immigrants/refugees and other newcomer families within our respective communities

What does the CHW do? 

  • Promotes social, economic, political and cultural inclusion of all families and communities of immigrant/refugee background in every aspects of life in Canada.
  • Creates relationships that lead to change within families/communities as well as the formal systems through health promotion and empowerment strategies grounded in health equity and social justice.

What difference does it make?

  • Addresses unique pre-migration and post migration determinants of health that affect health and well-being (poverty, housing, food insecurity, social isolation, bi-cultural parenting, PTSD, discrimination).
  • Assists families with equitable and full access to the full spectrum of health and social services through system navigation and advocacy.
  • Builds community capacity through nurturing mutual support and mutual learning relationships between families.
  • Engages community natural or faith leaders in community actions around common issues, such as family violence, and mental health.
  • Builds capacity of colleagues within the system (health, child welfare, education, etc.) by enhancing their knowledge, skills and connections with immigrant & refugee communities towards increasing cultural competency in the levels of front-line practice, program design and policy considerations.

What are some successes?

  • Prenatal health outreach work, reaching close to 2,500 mothers each year, roughly 16% of the births of this region. Ensuring that the mothers have universal access to prenatal health care with close to 98% breastfeeding rate, 100% infant immunization rate, and the development of mutual support network between mothers and fathers through prenatal, post-natal and nearly parenting groups.
  • Conduct research and develop strategies to support housing and food and security issues, the issues most negatively impact on the health and well-being of immigrant/refugee parents.
  • Work collaboratively with child welfare colleagues that have led to families being diverted out of child intervention and supported holistically around wellness issues.
  • Work collaboratively with colleagues within the early learning and care system (schools, head start programs, daycares) to enhance culturally relevant early childhood development and early parenting.
  • Promote chronic disease prevention (diabetes) in collaboration with Alberta Health Services colleagues in community with high prevalence.

What challenges/risks does the target population face?

  • Long-term chronic poverty experienced by so many of the families in Edmonton Alberta. Such realities are invisibility to many, in particular the decision-makers & policy-makers.
  • Lack of awareness, understanding and recognition of the roles of community health workers in addressing harsh realities among the families served.
  • Resource scarcity disadvantages the families and workers.

What makes our work rewarding?

  • Witnessing the families and the natural leaders attain positive changes in their lives and within the communities, despite the chronic poverty and social, economic and political marginalization.
  • Supporting the shifts in practice among our colleagues within the formal systems, such as Public Health nurses, nurses within the maternity units in hospitals, Child Welfare colleagues, and school colleagues within early learning programs, through partnership and collaboration in serving immigrant/refugee families.
    • For example, the co-creation of a joint casework protocol with child welfare colleagues which will guide practice across our region within child welfare in relation to immigrant & refugee families.

Narrative – Advocacy Role for CHW

Challenges can be overcome from true and deep recognition within government and public institutions of social and economic vulnerability by strengthening of the immigrant population through policy and program changes.  In particular, there needs to be the application of the principle of equity when it comes to funding to raise the health of vulnerable populations. 

In times of resource scarcity, the re-allocation of funding towards the most vulnerable population through a population-based funding model would be most relevant. 

Economic analysis of how the involvement of CHW’s in preventing costs within costly systems such as child welfare, emergency departments & hospitalization is critically needed at this time.

In this province, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is pursuing a primary health care movement. It is a moment whereby we can promote much broader-based formal recognition and support for community health workers like us, working on improving the health and wellness of vulnerable populations.

Short-term – the challenges facing the communities can be addressed by building the capacities (knowledge, skills and connections) of families in terms of equitable and full access to services and resources within formal systems to address vulnerable conditions of risk of homelessness, food insecurity and social isolation.

Longer-term - education and employment support leading to gainful & meaningful employment as a way to lift families out of trans-generational poverty. The support includes networking events, job creation with incentive for companies willing to hire immigrants and refugees, as well as incentives and technical support for immigrants/refugees to start and operate micro enterprises. Mentoring and support for recognition of foreign credentials among professional immigrants/refugees.

Specialized support for English-learning and employment skills development among refugees who are illiterate or have limited formal education would be helpful as well.

 A health care system that truly supports primary health care development, and see how health is situated 80% of the time within the community, which means beyond access to health care, efforts to address the broader determents of health in a preventative manner is key to health equity.  Community Health Workers are the most affordable strategy in attaining primary health care outcomes.


Phone: (780) 423-1973
Fax: (780) 428-2748
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Address: 9538 - 107 Ave Edmonton, AB T5H 0T7

East Calgary Health Centre, Alberta Health Services—Calgary Zone (Calgary)

What is the CHW called? Diversity Liaison

Where does the CHW work? Public Health

Province: Calgary, Alberta

What does the CHW do?

  • Design and offer diversity education to Alberta Health Services health professionals who are working with diverse populations.
  • Provide basic health education/presentations to the community in Calgary and areas to raise health awareness.
  • Offer consultation services in health system navigation/public health care access to local agency workers who serve diverse populations.
  • Compile and translate health topics and resources, and work with ethno-cultural media to spread this information to their communities.
  • Raise public awareness of community resources, link agency workers to these community resources to address social determinants of health.
  • Work with community partners to address issues of mental health and domestic violence.

Most frequently requested presentation topics:

  • Beat the Germs (Hand Hygiene and Flu Prevention)
  • Choosing Healthy Foods in Canada
  • Culture of the Canadian Health System
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Emotional Wellness
  • Health Care Options
  • Health Information and Health Care Interpreting Services
  • Health Insurance System
  • Healthy Eating for Babies 0-1 Year of Age
  • Healthy Eating for Children 1-6 Years of Age
  • Nutrition For Seniors
  • Oral Health Resources for Children 0-6 Years of Age
  • Preventing from Getting Communicable Diseases
  • Relationship: What is healthy or unhealthy?
  • Reducing Cancer Risks
  • Resources for People with Chronic Diseases
  • Safety Car Seat Training
  • Stress Management
  • What You Should Know About Hep C, Hep B and HIV
  • Women's Health

What difference does it make?

  • Raise health awareness in diverse populations
  • Promote wellness and prevent diseases in ethno-cultural communities
  • Address barriers in accessing health care in newcomers
  • Build agency capacity in serving immigrants and refugees in health and wellness
  • Build capacity of AHS health professionals in serving diverse populations

What are some successes?

  • Improved access to health programs and services in newcomers
  • Increased translated health resources
  • Increased partnerships with community agencies and English language schools
  • Enhanced diversity and inclusion in healthcare provision
  • Improved self-care and well-being in diverse communities

What challenges / risks does the target population face?

  • Language barriers
  • Low income
  • Inadequate transportation
  • Limited social supports
  • Social isolation
  • Low literacy levels
  • Limited knowledge of healthcare resources

What makes our work rewarding?

  • Being able to work with diverse populations to become healthy communities together.

Samples of requests/questions come to Diversity Liaisons

  • Is there any government assistance for CPAP machine to help with my sleep problem?
  • I am a refugee and I have just landed in Calgary for one week. Will the government health insurance cover medications and surgery in my transgender medical procedures?
  • Our English learners have been facing a lot of stress from settlement, employment and family. Could you share some tools, resources and skills in how they can better manage stress?
  • How can we raise awareness in ethno-cultural communities so that they can join the publicly funded chronic disease management program?
  • How could we make lab services more accessible to diverse populations?
  • Could you offer some Diversity Education to our newly hired health professionals in working with diverse populations with a diversity perspective?


Phone: 403-955-1486
Fax: 403-955-1211
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Address: East Calgary Health Centre
4715 - 8th Ave SE Calgary Alberta, T2A 3N4