New book examines how health is determined by political choices

Dennis Raphael
Dennis Raphael

According to Dennis Raphael, a professor in York University’s School of Health Policy and Management, health is determined by the political choices Canadians make and who they choose to lead the nation.

In The Politics of Health in the Canadian Welfare State, Raphael and co-author professor Toba Bryant of Ontario Tech University argue that the nature of Canada’s liberal welfare state shapes the health care system, the social determinants of health and the health of all Canadians.

“In this volume we take on the task of showing how Canada’s form of the welfare state helps to explain the organization of the health care system and the health outcomes and health inequities among Canadians,” Raphael said.

“More importantly, we point the way forward to improve these health outcomes by recognizing the important role that the power and influence wielded by the business and corporate sector plays in creating the public policies that distribute the resources necessary for health.”

The Politics of Health in the Canadian Welfare State
The Politics of Health in the Canadian Welfare State

The authors provide a comprehensive overview of how the form of the welfare state acts as an important determinant of health by exploring topics such as how the balance of power and influence in Canadian society effects the health of Canadians and how society marginalizes numerous populations. This new book also includes international comparative data to demonstrate where Canada stands in comparison to other welfare states and concludes with a timely epilogue considering the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout their careers, Bryant and Raphael have made valuable contributions to our understanding of the social determinants of health and health promotion strategies,” said Cheryl Camillo, assistant professor at University of Regina and an associate at the University of Toronto’s North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

“This passionate and readable book takes the vital next step of examining how to improve uptake of these strategies in their home country of Canada. Their main point, that political ideology shapes policymaking, needs to be conveyed to all who are endeavouring to improve population health.”

The Politics of Health in the Canadian Welfare State is available for purchase from the publisher.