The Grey Bruce Health Unit is committed to actions that work towards reducing health inequities, removing barriers and creating equitable opportunities that support health and well-being for all members of our community. We work towards health equity in many ways including;
- Strengthening meaningful partnerships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members and various organizations to support action;
- Monitoring and reporting on the relationship between social factors, like income, and health outcomes in Grey Bruce; and
- Participating in policy development to address the social determinants of health.
What is Health Equity?
Health Equity means that ALL members of the community have opportunities to be healthy and receive quality care that is fair and appropriate to their needs, no matter where they live, what they have or who they are (Health Quality Ontario, 2018).
Equity doesn’t mean Equality
Equality means that everyone is treated the same regardless of their needs or circumstances. However, treating everyone equally doesn’t mean that every person has the same opportunities to maintain optimal health.
Equity takes into consideration that some groups in our community face additional obstacles and barriers and require more supports to achieve the same level of health as others. Barriers may include low income, low literacy skills, limited access to healthy food, unsafe housing or limited access to reliable transportation.
In order to improve health and well-being for all people, we must first ensure everyone has the basics to be healthy. Thinking that the same approach will work universally to improve health is assuming everyone has those basics. Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need – so that people are able to reach higher levels of health and live full, healthy lives. Equality in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things.
If we compare both equality and equity side-by-side, you will notice on the right side of the graphic that the people haven’t changed. Instead, what has changed are the resources, approaches, policies, or practices that have an impact on the conditions in which community members live.
What Things Influence Health?
We know that health is influenced by much more than just the healthcare system. The Determinants of Health Model lists many of the factors that affect health. We refer to these factors as the Social Determinants of Health. Social determinants affect the conditions and circumstances in which individuals and communities live, learn, work, and play. It is also important to note that the Social Determinants of Health interact across the life span, and can affect families over the life course and across generations.
Determinants of Health Model
Source: Dahlgreen, G. and Whitehead, M. (1991). Policies and Strategies to Promote Social Equity in Health. Stockholm: Institute for Future Studies.
The Grey Bruce Health Equity Tool!
Using a health equity lens is foundational to providing quality care and improving the health of residents in Grey and Bruce. To support the application of a health equity lens at the individual and systems level, a health equity resource tool was developed. The tool was developed collaboratively with system leaders, service providers and community stakeholders across sectors and agencies within Grey Bruce.
Click on each section of the wheel to learn more about the social determinants of health that contribute to the health of individuals and communities. The Health Equity tool guides you in planning and implementing your programs, services, and activities to be more equitable by considering the specific needs of populations.
Need more information or support, but aren’t sure where to start? Visit https://211ontario.ca or call 211 to learn more about programs and services available in the County of Bruce, Grey County and across the province.
The Health Equity Tool and training video was developed by the Moving Health Equity Forward Committee, an action group of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.
How Can the Tool be Used?
When designing or making changes to policies and programs, or when working with your clients, consider these 5 key questions to ensure that you are using a health equity perspective.
If you are making changes for a group or organization, consider the system perspective. If you are making changes in the work you do directly with clients, patients, or other individuals, consider the individual perspective.