Care amidst the condos? Understanding gentrification’s unjust impact on social and health service delivery to vulnerable populations in Ottawa, ON
For cities’ most vulnerable populations, community-based social services have long served a critical need, offering diverse health and social programs geared towards those who have traditionally faced barriers accessing care. With services historically and still largely located in inner city neighbourhoods in Canada (and in close proximity to areas where their primary clientele resides), community health centres (CHCs) have long operated on mission statements centered on the equitable distribution of services, the mitigation of social disparities and the provision of programs that embody an ethics of care. As capitalist decision-making structures, neoliberal discourses and distributive injustices converge through processes of rapid gentrification, however, CHC clients already experiencing institutional oppressions are now subject to the proliferation of further health and social inequities. This is a result of significant changes to the surrounding social and built environment, which is rendering critical programs, services and former spaces of care inaccessible and exclusive. Using qualitative data gathered through interviews with social service workers embedded in CHCs in downtown Ottawa neighbourhoods, this thesis critically explores how gentrification and new constraints on social service delivery interact, to unjustly impact the overall health of vulnerable populations.