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Let’s Talk: Values and health equity

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This resource is also available in French.

This Let’s Talk document positions values as structural drivers of health equity, influencing priorities and action and at the individual, organizational and societal levels.

It includes a new framework that names the values most necessary for health equity–oriented public health practice. These values include behaviours (e.g., fairness, solidarity, courage) and end states (e.g., health equity and a dignified life, social justice). The values are then connected to policy and program approaches (e.g., cultural safety, racial equity) that could be applied in public health practice and across the larger health system.

The resource also explores health equity practice tensions that often arise in health equity practice tensions in relation to two larger societal tensions:

  1. A readiness for change versus a desire to keep things the way they are
  2. Wanting the well-being of others versus wanting success and power for oneself

Finally, the author identifies several opportunities for values to drive a culture of health equity and, by extension, public health and health equity action. 

Use this resource to:

  • describe key concepts related to values and health equity;
  • begin conversations with colleagues about values that support health equity;
  • identify opportunities for values to drive policy and program approaches for health equity; and
  • support strategic planning and visioning processes within public health organizations.


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2020). Let’s Talk: Values and Health Equity. Antigonish, NS: NCCDH, St. Francis Xavier University.

Related resources:

Tags: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, Report/document

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