Social Determinants of Health

Toronto's Food Insecurity Can't Be Fixed By Charity

Wellesley Institute | Posted 06.13.2016 | Canada Living
Wellesley Institute

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.

Safe And Affordable Housing Is A Health Issue

Danyaal Raza | Posted 05.10.2016 | Canada Politics
Danyaal Raza

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.

A Low Income Shouldn't Cost Ontarians Their Health

Dr. Joshua Tepper | Posted 04.21.2016 | Canada Impact
Dr. Joshua Tepper

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.

How Will The Saskatchewan Election Affect Its Citizens?

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 03.29.2016 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

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.

Health Minister Philpott Needs To Attach Strings To Health-Care Dollars

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 01.21.2016 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

In his letter to the minister, Prime Minister Trudeau tasked Health Minister Philpott with "engaging provinces and territories in the development of a new, multi-year Health Accord with long-term funding agreement." As the health ministers meet in Vancouver, how can they bend the curve toward a less costly and more effective health care system? How can they ensure the funds invested this time around will buy real improvements in health?

Upstream Justice: A Look At The Social Causes Of Crime

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 01.15.2016 | Canada Living
Dr Ryan Meili

An interview with Clive Weighill - Saskatoon Police Chief and President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: Some politicians talk about getting tough on crime. I'm saying you don't just want to get tough on crime, you have to get tough on the issues of poverty, poor housing, disadvantage. People are products of their environment, and if we can't solve those social issues, we're not going to solve the big picture in the end. I firmly believe that we have to work on poverty.

Setting The Conditions For Children's Long-Term Health

Chris Harper | Posted 01.05.2016 | Canada Parents
Chris Harper

As a medical student, I learn plenty about complex management of disease once it's started -- but rarely do we learn about what keeps people well in the first place. Aaron Antonovsky was a medical sociologist with a similar curiosity. Based on three components, his research provides a valuable framework for how we should approach public policy making in the area of health and wellness in Canada.

5 Things To Know About Food Insecurity In Canada

Carolyn Shimmin | Posted 01.04.2016 | Canada Living
Carolyn Shimmin

Food insecurity, also known as 'food poverty,' can cause significant anxiety over diminishing household food supplies and result in individuals modifying their eating patterns -- adults skipping meals so children can eat or sacrificing quality food choices for cheaper, less healthy options, for example.

What Will Canada's New National Early Learning And Child Care Framework Look Like?

Wellesley Institute | Posted 11.25.2015 | Canada Parents
Wellesley Institute

Canada's current patchwork of child care does not meet the needs of Canadian families. The new federal government has shown an understanding of the importance of improving our child care for the health and well-being of children and their parents.

The Federal Government Must Keep Its Promise To End Income Splitting

Avram Denburg | Posted 11.03.2015 | Canada Politics
Avram Denburg

income splitting primarily benefits middle- and upper-income families, provides relatively little tax relief for low-income families and skirts single parents altogether. Just as importantly, it acts to deter both parents from equal engagement in the workforce and devalues family policies that promote dual engagement.

Doctors Can't Write a Prescription for Poverty

Vivian Tam | Posted 10.19.2015 | Canada Living
Vivian Tam

What good is it to treat illness if we can only send our patients back to the conditions that helped make them sick to begin with? Our health is strongly influenced by factors such as income, our working environment and affordable housing, over which neither patients nor medical doctors have much control.

We Need a National Housing Strategy

Ritika Goel | Posted 10.13.2015 | Canada Politics
Ritika Goel

My patient reminded me that day of something that I have always known -- access to housing is not just a matter of rights and justice, it's also a matter of health. When his mental health deteriorates, he can indeed access the hospital care he needs, but if providing him access to housing can help keep him healthier, costs us less, and is the right thing to do, then why not do it for everyone? This federal election, when we vote, we must vote for housing for all, and no matter who is elected, we must call on them to take action immediately.

Canadian Children Need a National Champion

Laura Stymiest | Posted 10.08.2015 | Canada Parents
Laura Stymiest

A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could report on the status of children. They would ensure all sectors consider children in decision-making. A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could also provide a framework of accountability for a federal commitment to eliminate child poverty.

Saskatoon's Housing Crisis Is a Health Emergency

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 10.02.2015 | Canada Impact
Dr Ryan Meili

Despite a strong economy, Saskatchewan has a deficit in access to safe and affordable housing. The Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership performed a "point-in-time" count of people without a home on a given night and found 405 people. The number from these counts has steadily increased. What's especially disturbing is that 45 of the homeless individuals in this year's count were children. Across Canada, an estimated 235,000 people will experience homelessness in the course of a year, with 35,000 homeless on any given night. Beyond those who are homeless, many Canadians struggle to maintain the housing they have.

The Sharing Economy Might Be Making You Sick

Wellesley Institute | Posted 09.20.2015 | Canada Business
Wellesley Institute

The success of Airbnb and Uber -- two of the largest sharing economy platforms -- stems from their ability to offer lower prices for consumers, lower barriers to entry for service providers, work flexibility, and ease of connecting with renters/users. But what's behind the bargains seems to be posing potential health risks for service providers and service users alike. The sharing economy is not generating what would be considered to be "good" jobs.

Want a Healthy Society? Take Care of the Children

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 08.06.2015 | Canada Impact
Dr Ryan Meili

Beloved Canadian children's singer Raffi is touring Canada with a new album after having taken time away to focus on and develop the Centre for Child Honouring. While he was in Saskatoon, we sat down to discuss music and the making of a healthy society.

Providing Better Health Services in Prisons Can Help Improve Lives

Fiona Kouyoumdjian | Posted 06.10.2016 | Canada Politics
Fiona Kouyoumdjian

It surprises most people to know that about one in 200 Canadians is detained or incarcerated in jail or prison every year, and that the average length of stay in these facilities is only a few weeks. Time spent in jail or prison can serve as an opportunity to improve health. But achieving this goal will require a change in attitudes about health care in custody and reforming health care in correctional facilities.

At the Heart of Medicine: An Interview With CMA President Chris Simpson

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 05.30.2016 | Canada
Dr Ryan Meili

Recently, I was fortunate to attend the Global Symposium on the Role of Physicians and National Medical Associations in Addressing Health Equity and the Social Determinants of Health held in London, England. I sat down with Dr. Simpson to explore the stories, the evidence and the politics that come into play when doctors are actors for social change.

How a Made-in-B.C. Strategy Could Bring an End to AIDS in Canada

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 05.24.2015 | Canada Impact
Dr Ryan Meili

Saskatchewan is among a number of regions in Canada, such as Manitoba and even our nation's capital, currently experiencing alarming spikes in the spread of HIV. B.C. has an impressive track record for slowing the spread of HIV/AIDs in the province. The B.C. Centre created a Treatment as Prevention strategy which provides widespread access to HIV testing, care, support and treatment. Keys to the strategy's success have been political commitment, programmatic focus, ongoing innovation coupled with monitoring and evaluation, appropriate resourcing and free services (including fully free antiretroviral therapy (ART)).

Income Inequality Poses a Health Risk to All

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 05.23.2015 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

There is a growing international movement, supported by the World Health Organization, toward "Health in all Policies," an approach that has been adopted by governments around the world. Here in Canada, Quebec has such a policy, and Newfoundland and Labrador is currently exploring this model.

Five Things Every Canadian Should Know About Obesity

Carolyn Shimmin | Posted 04.14.2015 | Canada Living
Carolyn Shimmin

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Canadians living with obesity over the past few decades and it is often cited as a risk factor for other chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. This means that obesity is frequently a hot topic in the news. But media stories often miss the mark when it comes to informing Canadians about the complex factors that lead to obesity.

Lessons On the Dangers of Income Inequality... From TD Bank

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 02.27.2015 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

It is perhaps discouraging that the health effects of inequality have not been sufficiently concerning to drive decision-makers to change policies, but a new kind of evidence may make a greater difference. It's not only the people in unequal countries that are sicker, it's their markets as well.

Meet the Canadian Doctor Who Prescribes Income to Treat Poverty

Trudy Lieberman | Posted 01.27.2015 | Canada Politics
Trudy Lieberman

Last fall when I visited Canada, I met a Toronto doctor named Gary Bloch who has developed a poverty tool for medical practitioners. Bloch's idea was to zoom in on the social determinants of health -- food, housing, transportation -- all poverty markers linked to bad health and poor health outcomes.

Public Health Is Getting Political

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 01.25.2015 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

The evidence for the link between factors determined by social policy and health outcomes is crystal clear. Decades of studies have demonstrated that income and its distribution, education, employment, housing, food security and the wider environment have far greater impact than health care in influencing our health.

This Remembrance Day, Think About the Correlation Between Peace and Health

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 01.10.2015 | Canada
Dr Ryan Meili

The road from peace to health is not a one-way street; a healthy society is less likely to find itself fighting. The same conditions that lead to higher levels of illness -- economic inequality, food insecurity, labour unrest -- can also lead to dangerous political instability.