In addressing the many factors that impact our health, the most important thing you can do is understand how things like income, housing, and education impact your health. This knowledge will provide a basis for action, so we can ensure everyone has the best possible chance of being healthy. Learn more about the many factors that impact health here.
Every member of the community has an important part in addressing the social determinants of health and increasing health equity. Which role will you play?
Everyone has a role to play in making the community and its members as healthy as possible. Poverty is costly for the country to fight, and as a result everyone pays.
Here are some things anyone can do to take action:
- During election time, ask candidates about their views on issues such as: food insecurity, affordable housing, childcare, and guaranteed liveable incomes.
- Buy local in your community.
- Donate your time to becoming a Circles ally.
- Share your skills with others such as gardening, cooking, or support friends with transportation.
- Volunteer or get trained in local initiatives such as Bridges out of Poverty.
- Start an after school low-cost or no-cost activity such as baseball, hockey or other fitness activity.
- Contact your MP or MPP about issues that need attention at the federal or provincial level.
Community partners have a special role in providing services often to those who are most at risk for the negative influences of the social determinants of health. It is important for organizations to take the following steps to address these issues:
- Identify and address service gaps and barriers that reduce opportunities for health for some members of our communities.
- Seek opportunities to partner and collaborate with other agencies to reduce health inequities.
- Build support for changes to policies that impact the health of our communities.
- Gather evidence on the needs of the community to support change at the policy level.
Municipal leaders, both locally and otherwise, are in the best position to effect change with the social determinants of health. Leaders in government are the decision makers on policies that determine such things as where money will be allocated, availability of public transportation, creation of green spaces and parks and more.
Municipal leaders should:
- Take a Health in All Policies approach.
- Advocate for a national child care system.
- Provide accessible and affordable public transportation.
- Advocate for more affordable and safe housing.
- Create safe and accessible parks and green space for recreation.
- Advocate for a Living Wage.
Due to their influence on childhood and the positive impact schools and teachers can have on children and youth’s lives, educators have an important part in addressing the social determinants of health in their work.
- Provide support for school programs such as snack programs, the walking school bus, and clothing/equipment swaps.
- Be aware of the impact that poverty has on children (E.g. low-self esteem, teasing by others).
- Consider the impact of costs associated with things like school trips, fundraisers, supplies (ex. multiple pairs of shoes), and seek solutions to help ease the financial burden.
- Develop relationships with students and their family to recognize those that may require extra support.
- Work resources into your curriculum about the effects of the social determinants of health.
- Attend Bridges Out of Poverty Training.
Employment and working conditions have an impact on health, so employers have an important role in ensuring employees are healthy. This includes providing adequate wages, ensuring a proper work-life balance, providing opportunities for advancement, and more.
Here some things employers can implement in their businesses:
- Provide a Living Wage.
- Be flexible in the hours of work to help families address their childcare and transportation needs.
- Provide on the job training and opportunities.
- Incorporate wellness and safety initiatives in the workplace.
- Promote workplace Employee Assistance Programs.
- Fundraise or donate to a community program that helps families in need such as food banks, school bursaries funds, etc.