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Some of the most passionate mental health advocates work in women's shelters. Women on the front-lines for addressing mental health needs. Women supporting other women to find safety, stability, and empowerment in their lives -- in a way, sisterhood embodied.
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Given that inequalities emerge early in life - and seem to persist - it is imperative and urgent that Canada invest, develop and sustain a high-quality early child development framework.
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In Canada, men account for three out of every four suicides -- with seven men dying by suicide every day. And the risk is even greater for gay and bisexual men, who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men. Which isn't surprising since they also experience higher levels of harassment, discrimination in the workplace and are more likely to be the victims of violent crime.
Primary care is considered the front door to our health-care system. Whether you're going for a general check-up or have just been diagnosed with cancer, your family doctor makes sure you get the tests, treatment and care you need. But not all family practices in Ontario are created equal.
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Canadian indigenous people have been described as "ghosts of history," spectres lingering in the background, haunting our legacy. This refers to the fact that indigenous people have been ignored to a great extent in Canadian history, yet Canadians are fully aware that indigenous people were here long before the arrival of the Europeans.
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But the biggest barrier to ending poverty is the political orthodoxy we have lived by for the past 40 or more years, grounded in austerity: That good government is small government, that social programs must shrink and that taxes are evil. It is over this period that we have seen the most dramatic rise in poverty rates and income inequality, with a concentration of wealth in the top 1 per cent. It's time for a rethink.
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If you asked Canadians why life expectancy in our country continues to rise -- now 79 years for men and 83 for women -- many might attribute the increase to advances in medicine, such as new pharmaceutical research and surgical interventions. Scientists working in labs, in other words. It's not so simple.
Research has shown women with disabilities and deaf women face multiple barriers to accessing health care, including cancer screening and treatment. In some cases, health care practitioners focus on the disability itself as a health problem, and ignore the overall health of the patient.
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Women's homelessness is a significant, yet often hidden, crisis facing this country. Research shows that for every person who is absolutely homeless, there are at least three more who fall into the hidden homelessness category.
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For me, figuring out and seeking treatment for my anxiety has been a healing and affirming process. But I often wonder: how would my childhood and teenage years have been different if I had a vocabulary for understanding my anxiety? If my parents, siblings or friends did? If I had early access to therapy or other kinds of treatment -- or even just a way to talk about my anxiety and resulting depression?
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Food insecurity -- the inability to afford sufficient food because of inadequate income -- is a health equity issue. It affects individuals' health in the short term but has long-term impacts: children from food insecure households are more likely to have poor physical and mental health, are more likely to go to the hospital, and have poorer academic performance and cognitive outcomes in later life.
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The evidence is clear. Social factors, like housing, income and wealth, educational background, and race are more powerful determinants of health outcomes than our behaviours, genes, or even the healthcare system itself.
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While the incomes of Canada's wealthiest are increasing, the absolute wealth of our poorest is decreasing. As this gap grows, so too do the differences in people's health risks, care and outcome. The poorer people are in Ontario, the more likely they are to have shorter lifespans, to be overdue for screening tests and to suffer from multiple chronic health conditions.
The recent Saskatchewan leaders' debate has been criticized as a great deal of shouting with very little substance. This is disappointing, as elections are exciting moments to consider important ideas in the light of what matters most: our health and well-being.