About us

Who we are

The Best Start Resource Centre: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre is a key program of Health Nexus, a bilingual health promotion organization that works with diverse partners to build healthy, equitable and thriving communities. The Best Start Resource Centre supports service providers who work in preconception health, prenatal health and early child development.

What we do

Supply you with evidence-based resources

The Best Start Resource Centre produces multi-media resources in multiple languages on a broad range of topics related to preconception health, prenatal health, and early child development. Most of our resources can be downloaded free of charge. Many of them can be adapted for local use. Some displays are available for short-term loan. Contact us for more information.

Keep you connected

Our electronic bulletins help you to stay up to date on current trends in preconception, prenatal and child health promotion.

Our online networks (listservs) help you to exchange ideas, strategies and best practices with other service providers and experts.

Provide consultations

We can help you develop strategies, brainstorm ideas, plan your programs, and learn about the latest research, tools and trends. We tailor information to your individual needs or issues. You can access our consultation services remotely through a variety of platforms and tools or in person in your Ontario community, at little or no cost.

Deliver training and professional development

Workshops across Ontario – We host learning events throughout the year and across the province.

Online learning opportunities for self-directed learning:

Annual conference – Every February, we welcome hundreds of service providers to our Annual Best Start Conference featuring leaders in the fields of preconception, prenatal and child health. Access slides, video and more from the 2018 BSRC Conference.

Our history

For more than 20 years, the Best Start Resource Centre has been a leader in preconception, prenatal and child health promotion programs in Ontario.

  • 1992—began as ‘Best Start’, housed within the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse (now Health Nexus), as a unique demonstration project in the District of Algoma and the City of Barrie.
  • 1992-98—supported demonstration sites to develop hundreds of innovative programs to promote the health of women and families, before, during and after pregnancy.
  • 1998—Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded the Best Start Resource Centre to build on lessons learned from the demonstration phase and support communities across the province.
  • 2000—our mandate expanded to include early child development and we officially became known as Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre.

Today we are an integral part and major program of Health Nexus, guided by the organization’s mission and values and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. See the Health Nexus annual report for more information.

Ontario Health Promotion Resource Centres

Best Start Resource Centre is one of many health promotion resource centres funded by the Ontario Government. The following is a list of these resource centres, including contact information and a brief description of their services.

Best Start Resource Centre (BSRC)

Prenatal/Child Health
Host Organization: Health Nexus

Contact: Wendy McAlllister, Manager
1-800-397-9567 x2279

BSRC supports Ontario service providers in addressing preconception, prenatal and child health. BSRC provides training, consultation, listservs, ebulletins, web-based information, client/provider resources, information supports, research, as well as periodic provincial awareness campaigns.

CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre (CAMH HPRC)

Mental Health, Substance & Alcohol Use
Host Organization: CAMH

Contact: Tamar Meyer, Supervisor
1-416-535-8501 x33936

CAMH HPRC is Ontario’s lead source for health promotion evidence regarding mental health and substance use. CAMH HPRC builds capacity in health promotion, public health and allied health professionals and engages in partnership development and knowledge exchange to impact local and system-level practice, planning and policy. CAMH HPRC is based within CAMH’s Provincial System Support Program which moves evidence to action to transform mental health and addictions system in Ontario.

CAMH Training Enhancement in Applied Cessation Counselling and Health Project (TEACH)

Host Organization: CAMH

Contact: Rosa Dragonetti, Project Director
1-416-535-8501 x77404

TEACH provides training in intensive tobacco cessation interventions through a 41.5 hour U of T Certificate Program consisting of a prerequisite of the OTRU online training modules, a three day core course plus a two day specialty course. Participants are required to complete pre and post learning assessments as well as a case-based test to obtain their certificate. Training is offered in person and online in English. The program also offers monthly webinars on various topics in tobacco cessation to enhance participants’ knowledge; a listserv where participants can share resources and post question on specific cases they encounter. TEACH also hosts a Community of Practice Webinar Series focused on implementation post training. Additional services include development of train-the-trainer toolkits and training.

Curriculum and School Based Health Resource Centre (CSBHRC)

Healthy Active Living and the Health and Physical Education Curriculum
Host Organization: Ophea

Contact: Tammy Shubat, Director of Programs

The CSBHRC supports effective implementation of Healthy Active Living and the Health and Physical Education (H&PE) Curriculum and other key provincial policies across Ontario primarily within school settings, with support from key partners like public health.

HC Link

Healthy Communities
Host Organization: Health Nexus

Contact: HC Link Intake Coordinator
416-847-1575 or 1-855-847-1575

HC Link works with community groups, organizations, and partnerships to build healthy, vibrant communities across Ontario. HC Link offers consulting services, learning and networking events, and resources in both English and French.

Health Promotion Capacity Building (HPCB)

Health Promotion
Host Organization: PHO

Contact: Benjamin Rempel, Manager

General Information:

HPCB provides services in the areas of program planning and evaluation, healthy public policies and by-laws, health communication, social marketing, knowledge exchange, alcohol policy, and other health promotion topics. HPCB assists health units, community health centres, NGOs and partner ministries in planning, conducting, and evaluating evidence-based interventions that promote health and prevent chronic disease and injury.

Health Promotion Capacity Building - Alcohol Policy (HPCB-AP)

Alcohol Policy
Host Organization: PHO

Contact: Jason LeMar, Health Promotion Consultant

HPCB-AP addresses alcohol-related harm in communities across Ontario. HPCB-AP supports the development, implementation, assessment and coordination of alcohol policies across different settings and levels (e.g., schools, colleges, workplaces, municipalities, provinces, etc.). HPCB-AP was formerly known as the Alcohol Policy Network and was housed at the Ontario Public Health Association until 2012.

Nutrition Resource Centre (NRC)

Host Organization: OPHA

Contact: Karen Gough, Program Manager

NRC strengthens the capacity of Ontario health promotion professionals involved in healthy eating and nutrition across the health and lifecycle continuum. As the lead Resource Centre for healthy eating and nutrition, NRC supports work that accelerates evidence into action to transform program and policy development. NRC provides training, consultations, listservs, ebulletins, web-based information, centralized hub for resources, resource development, research syntheses, KTE and dissemination.

Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre (OIPRC)

Injury Prevention
Host Organization: Parachute

Contact: Amy Padro, Manager

OIPRC increases the capacity of injury prevention practitioners to implement comprehensive, effective, and evidence-informed interventions to reduce injury in Ontario.

Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU)

Host Organization: University of Toronto

Contact: Robert Schwartz, Executive Director

OTRU provides knowledge, research, evaluation, capacity building and knowledge exchange services in support of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy.

Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC)

Physical Activity
Host Organization: Ophea

Contact: Katie Glover, Director of Knowledge Mobilization

PARC is the centre for excellence for physical activity promotion in Ontario. Its key objective is to reduce chronic disease by promoting collaboration and use of best practices related to physical activity policies, programs and resources amongst Ontario physical activity promoters.

Program Training and Consultation Centre (CTCC)

Host Organization: Cancer Care Ontario

Contact: Steven Savvaidis, Manager
1-416-971-9800 x3834

PTCC provides training, consultation and knowledge exchange services to public health departments, their community partners and to Tobacco Control Area Networks in key competency areas for comprehensive tobacco control. Services are delivered in a variety of formats including workshops, courses, webinars, e-learning, communities of practice, consultations, and provincial forums. The PTCC also operates a Media Network which disseminates daily media updates, media analyses, and offers media related training. The PTCC partners with the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact on a number of tobacco control projects including documenting successful tobacco control practices.

Smoking and Health Action Foundation (SHAF)

Host Organization: Non-Smokers Rights Association

Contact: Lorraine Fry, Executive Director

SHAF conducts evidence-based policy research and issue analyses and disseminates information on current and emerging tobacco control issues and trends. SHAF builds capacity in the Ontario public health community by providing training, technical assistance and consultations upon request in response to regional priorities on current and emerging tobacco control issues. SHAF educates the public on tobacco control issues via its three websites, making use of social media and responding to public inquiries and requests for assistance.

Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI)

Tobacco and Youth Engagement
Host Organization: Lung Association

Contact: Sarah Butson, Provincial Manager

YATI aims to equip youth, young adults, and adults working with youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent and reduce tobacco use, promote health and advocate for positive change in their communities through youth engagement. YATI does this through training programs and partnership projects that support the Government’s goal of reaching the lowest smoking rate in Canada.