PPSH Elizabeth Bagshaw Clinic History

In December 1931 local public service-minded Mary Hawkins convened the charter meeting of the Maternal Health Clinic. The doors opened to Canada's and North America's first and longest operating birth control clinic on March 2, 1932. Within two months Hamilton physician, Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw, joined the clinic staff and later became the Clinic's Medical Director. 1932 saw the Clinic name changed to the Birth Control Society. The League of Nations unanimously passed a resolution accepting contraception as a normal part of preventive medicine in 1932. Later, on October 9,1952, the Birth Control Society officially changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Society of Hamilton. Eleven years later the Society became one of the charter members of the new national organization The Federation of Societies for Population Planning. Officially chartered by the Ontario Government in 1966, the Society saw the removal of three words "prevention contraception or" removed from the Criminal Code permitting it to operate legally for the first time. Shortly thereafter the Society obtained its status of a charitable institution under the Income Tax Act. In tribute to Dr. Bagshaw's outstanding 33 years of service, the Clinic within the Planned Parenthood Society was officially named for Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw.

On the subject of funding, Planned Parenthood began to receive provincial funding from the Ministry of Health in the early 1970's. Interestingly the first budget submitted to the Ministry for family planning programs was $20,000. The Ministry utilized the Society's services as a guideline for establishing similar Public Health service delivery. The Region of Hamilton Wentworth was directly involved in the financial administration of the Society until 1992 when the Society assumed full responsibility for its administrative operations. The provincial Ministry of Health continued the Society's financial support until December 1997. Provincial funding amounted to 72% of the Society's 1997 budget of $502,000. Additional revenues are from individual donations, fund raising sources and grants. Traditionally, the provincial revenues have sustained the clinic expenses while other fund raising sources have supported the educational programs.

What began in modest circumstances gradually expanded to a community service organization with a modern clinic staffed by professionals managing 20,000 clients annually. An important resource within the community Planned Parenthood has been well recognized by local professionals and community agencies. As part of their teaching, medical and nursing students request to attend educational sessions in the clinic. The Society is also a popular student placement each year. Local agencies and family physicians often refer clients for services. The Clinic services are enhanced by the Thelma Will Resource Centre, the Multicultural Family Planning Education and Services Program and Parent and Youth health sexuality programs. A further program, the Women's Midlife Health Planning Access Centre provides opportunities for information counseling and support groups.


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