York professor continues to shift conversation on factors shaping health in Canada
An updated text co-authored by York University Professor Dennis Raphael explores the public policies that distribute the resources necessary for promoting the health of Canadians.
Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts, 2nd Edition highlights how health is shaped by factors ranging from income, wealth distribution, employment and working conditions to access to education, social services, food and housing, among others. It also documents the ways Canadian governments have failed to systematically address these issues.
The first edition of this document, prepared for the general public in 2010, shifted the Canadian conversation on the factors that shape health, having been downloaded more than 1,200,000 times since its publication.
For the second edition, Raphael, a professor in the School of Health Policy and Management, collaborated with Professor Toba Bryant of Ontario Tech University, Juha Mikkonen, a PhD recipient from York University’s Graduate Program in Health Policy and Equity and executive director of the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention and photographer Alexander Raphael.
Contributors to the text include Julia Fursova, a postdoctoral Fellow in environmental studies at York, Morris Komakech, a PhD student in York’s Health Policy and Equity program, and Ambreen Sayani, a recent PhD graduate in the Health Policy and Equity program at York who is now a research Fellow at Women's College Hospital.
This new edition confronts the assumption that individuals have control over the social determinants of health, defined as the primary factors determined by living and working conditions that shape the health of Canadians, and outlines how these conditions are often imposed on communities through policies and the institutions they interact with.
“Improving the health of Canadians is possible but requires Canadians think about health and its determinants in a more sophisticated manner than has been the case to date,” Raphael said. “The purpose of this second edition is to stimulate research, advocacy and public debate about the social determinants of health and means of improving their quality and making their distribution more equitable.”
For each of the 17 social determinants – including early child development, social exclusion, disability, gender and race – the authors discuss why they are important to health, how Canada compares to other wealthy developed nations and how the quality of the specific social determinant can be improved.
“Like highly skilled trial lawyers, the authors have assembled this evidence, concisely, clearly and compellingly, into a single document,” said Rob Rainer, former executive director of Canada Without Poverty. “As a result, the prospect of realizing the rights that constitute an international standard for a decent human life is that much brighter.”