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Let's Start a Conversation About Health...and Not Talk About Health Care at All

Introduction to the Social Determinants of Health
When Canadians think of the factors that affect their health, most point to genetics, lifestyle choices, and the health-care delivery system as the main factors.  In reality, much of our health is related to the conditions we face, not the choices we make. Things like housing situations, work settings, education, available food, and social services are all determinants that influence our health.

The Social Determinants of Health include:

  • Income and  Social Status
  • Social Support Networks
  • Education and Literacy
  • Employment/Working Conditions
  • Social Environments
  • Physical Environments
  • Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
  • Healthy Child Development
  • Biology and Genetic Endowment
  • Health Services
  • Gender
  • Culture

Why do we need to address the Social Determinants of Health?
Rather than blaming an individual for their poor health, we need to look deeper at the reasons why the person isn’t healthy.  A lot of the conditions a person faces are a result of policy decisions. Employment, social assistance, housing, recreation, and the environment are examples of things that impact health that we can encourage the government to support.

Canada is doing a poor job of keeping its residents healthy.  The gap between rich and poor is growing, and so is the number of Canadians living in poverty.  Health care costs are increasing and will only continue to go up with our aging population.

In Northwestern Ontario we have a lower average income, higher unemployment rates, and less university graduates when compared to Ontario as a whole.  For more information, see the Social Determinants of Health Report 2012.

We cannot sustain the path we’re on… it’s time for change; it’s time to invest in health.

Why did the Northwestern Health Unit create this video?
Northwestern Health Unit is pleased that you have shown interest in the video, Let’s Start a Conversation About Health...  The goal of the video is to highlight the social determinants of health and get individuals and organizations to begin a talking about healthier communities, without dwelling on health care.

Health is much more than health care services, wait times in the ER, and doctor shortages. To create and promote healthier communities, we need to understand that social and economic conditions – incomes, jobs, housing and social supports – shape people’s opportunities for health. Health starts where you live, learn, work, and play.

The video encourages everyone- teachers, parents, nurses, businessmen, students, politicians, builders, doctors…to start a conversation about health…and not talk about health care at all. Everybody plays a part in creating health and healthy communities.

Have you seen it yet?  Watch the video now!

How to use the SDOH video
Are you showing the video to a group?  Here’s a guide to help you promote the SDOH video effectively.

What we can do

We all have a role to play in shaping healthy people and healthy communities.  Listed are some ideas of what you can do.

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit list great ideas for:

  • Individuals
  • Educators
  • Businesses
  • Health Care Professionals
  • Service Clubs
  • Faith Groups

Still looking for more information? Check out these links



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