Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health

Let’s Start a Conversation About Health...


What determines health?  Many people think of their health as a result of personal choices they make such as choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables, being active for at least 30 minutes or more, choosing not to smoke, or drinking alcohol in moderation.  Others believe that seeing a health professional promptly for medical care when it is needed is what makes them healthy.

New information says that health is affected by much more than that.  It is a result of everything that we do... where we live, learn, work, and play.   These conditions are called determinants of health.  Below are the determinants of health listed by the Canadian Public Health Agency.

Social determinants of Health

  • Income and Income Distribution
  • Education
  • Unemployment and Job Security
  • Employment and Working Conditions
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Food Insecurity
  • Housing
  • Social Exclusion
  • Social Safety Network
  • Health Services
  • Aboriginal Status
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Disability

Adapted from the CPHA - Canadian Public Health Association


Income Disparity

Poorer people in cities with more equal sharing of income, are healthier and live longer than richer people in cities with less sharing of income.

James R. Dunn, PhD, The Health Determinants Partnership Making Connections Project (p16)



Safe and affordable housing is an absolute necessity for living a healthy life. The presence of mould, poor heating, inadequate ventilation, pests and overcrowding are all determinants of adverse health outcomes. Children who live in low quality housing condition have a greater likelihood of poor health outcomes as children and also later in adulthood.

The Canadian Facts, Social Determinants of Health


Food Security

Food insecurity is significantly associated with poor health outcomes including multiple chronic conditions, obesity, distress and depression.

NCBI, Food insecurity in Canadian households




Transport provides access to jobs, education, services, and recreational activities - critical social determinants of health. Many vulnerable groups, such as women, children and youth, disabled persons, low-income groups, and the elderly, have less access to a personal vehicle; they rely on walking, cycling, and public transport.

WHO, Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts (p 29)


Expand to Discover More Social Determinants of Health

Aboriginal Status

Health Inequities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples Health Booklet

First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples constitute 3.8 % of the Canadian population. The average income of Aboriginal men and women is 58% less than the rest of Canadians.  Unemployment rates are higher. Of all First Nations people living on reserve, 40% men, 43% women attain high school education.

NCCAH, Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples' Health


Aboriginal peoples are more likely to be living in crowded housing than non-Aboriginal Canadians. Rates of infectious and chronic diseases are much higher in the Aboriginal population than the rest of Canadians. Suicide rates, addiction rates, and childhood sexual assault are much higher than the rest of Canada.

Social Determinants of Health - The Canadian Facts


Recommendations of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Report need to be followed to address the social determinants of health affected all Aboriginal Peoples.  See Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action


Social Safety Net

This refers to a range of benefits, programs and supports that protect citizens during various life changes that can affect their health. These life changes could be normal things such as having and raising children, reaching retirement, or could be unexpected events such as having an accident, unemployment, or getting sick. More information on Social Safety Net can be found within Social Determinants of Health - The Canadian Facts.



Why Canadian babies don’t sleep in boxes.


Early Childhood Development

Children born into socioeconomically disadvantaged families suffer worse child well-being and its lifelong implications, in all societies…less to do with specific welfare policies or targeted interventions for poor children than to a societal commitment to greater equality.

The Ethical and Policy Implications of Research on Income Inequality and Child Well-Being


Get Schooled Article

There is a growing gap in those kids living in circumstances where the parents don’t or can’t spend that time reading, a growing gap in ‘Goodnight Moon’ time.… Smart, poor kids with high test scores are now less likely to graduate from college than not-so-smart rich kids with low test scores.

Get Schooled, Goodnight Moon and opportunity: A worrisome gap between rich and poor


The early years of life are crucial in influencing a range of health and social outcomes across the life course…the loss of human potential … is associated with more than a 20% deficit in adult income and will have implications for national development

Promoting equity from the start through early child development and Health in All Policies


Children who participate in quality early childhood development (pre-school) programs have significantly better socioeconomic, educational, and emotional developmental outcomes.

CDPAC Position Statement on Social Determinants of Health.


Living and Working Conditions

Employment features that shape health outcomes: employment security, physical conditions at work, work pace and stress, working hours, opportunity for self-expression and development. When workers feel an imbalance between demands and rewards, it leads to health problems.

Social Determinants of Health - The Canadian Facts


Employee Rights
What are my rights as an employee?

In Canada, workplace injuries are under-reported as there are costs to employers and employees to report these accidents. 30% of employees feel their employment puts their health and safety at risk.


Employment, job security and working conditions:




What do we mean by Poverty?

Poverty can come in many shares and forms. While many think of poverty as an economic issue, such as lack of financial resources, it is also impacted by a variety of political, personal, social and cultural factors. Various forms of poverty are often referred to including:

  • Absolute Poverty
  • Situational Poverty
  • Generational Poverty
  • Relative Poverty

To fully understand poverty, we all must consider the opportunities we have had in our own lives.  Not everyone has the same opportunities to succeed – there can be many roadblocks people face in their day to day lives. Literacy levels, income and employment, housing, education, access to healthy foods, transportation, mental health and many other factors may contribute to poverty and ultimately to the health of people in our community. Some demographics are also more likely to experience poverty, such as single parents, newcomers to Canada and, due to the ongoing impacts of colonialism, Indigenous peoples.


Grey Bruce Poverty Issues

INCOME - In 2015, the median income for households in Grey ($62,935) and Bruce was well below the provincial average of $74,287. 20% of Grey and 13.4% of Bruce children live in low-income households [LIM-AT], though this varies greatly by local municipality.

HOMELESSNESS – In 2017, the number of people across Grey and Bruce who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and accessed the YMCA Housing Support Program was 3,002.

EDUCATION - In 2016, 14.1% of 25-34 year olds in Grey Bruce did not complete high school, which is well above the Ontario average of 7.7%.

ALCOHOL MISUSE – 23% of Grey Bruce residents identified as heavy drinkers in 2013/14, compared to 17% across Ontario.



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