Equity in Action
COVID-19 and Health Equity Network
Equity-informed responses to COVID-19
Public health roles
Racial Equity at the NCCDH
Public Health Training for Equitable Systems Change (PHESC)
Organizational Capacity Initiative
Health Equity Collaborative Network
Employment and volunteer opportunities
The NCCPH program
Leadership and capacity
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Promising Practices for Health Equity
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The Advisory Board
Population Health Status Reporting
About the Social Determinants of Health
Public Health Leadership
Our Staff Team
Workshops & Events
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted existing system gaps and exacerbated health inequities experienced by various equity-deserving groups. Throughout the pandemic, certain groups have experienced disproportionately high rates of infection and poorer health outcomes related to COVID-19.
The “Equity in Action” project aims to minimize the gap by collecting and sharing stories of interventions that have successfully promoted health equity in pandemic planning, response, and recovery. Public health practitioners across Canada, recognizing the importance of the social and structural determinants of health, have implemented interventions to promote equitable pandemic responses. This repository of positive narratives can facilitate learning and connection among Public Health Practitioners in Canada and guide equity-based planning through pandemic recovery and beyond. It is critical to lift the voices of community leaders as a source of evidence to help guide and promote equity-driven interventions in health promotion, disease prevention and future emergency preparedness planning.
National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (Publishing date: Year, Month, Day of Individual Story). Equity in Action Story Title. Equity in Action. www.nccdh.ca/learn/equity-in-action
What is the network?
The COVID-19 and Health Equity Network is one of the ways that the NCCDH is supporting equitable system responses to the current COVID-19 crisis and the future recovery.
The network is associated with a listserv (mailing list) so that members can easily exchange knowledge about COVID-19 and health equity that is relevant to public health practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and intersectoral partners.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for more equity-centred resources regarding COVID-19.
To learn more about regional responses in your province or territory, please visit the respective website for your area’s health authority.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve at a rapid pace across the world, equity and solidarity need to be beacons in a values-driven global response. Our societal responses must be infused with the knowledge that COVID-19 will swiftly follow and amplify lines of existing inequities. For this reason, our decisions and actions must consistently place equity at the core.
The NCCDH is responding to COVID-19 by identifying the differential impacts of COVID-19 and amplifying equity-informed responses. We are doing so through the following activities:
1. Hosting Community Conversations (Webinars)
- Conversation Series 1: Health equity, determinants of health and COVID-19 (April–May, 2020)
- Conversation Series 2: From risk to resilience: A health equity approach to pandemic preparedness, response and recovery (February - April 2021)
- Conversation Series 3: COVID-19 Conversations: Recovery and regeneration in the face of overlapping crises (March 2022 - June 2022)
2. Translating knowledge and evidence to support decision-making
3. Maintaining a Resource Hub on COVID-19
4. Participating in knowledge and research partnerships
We will be updating this page with resources related to health equity and the social determinants of health that are of relevance to Canadian public health. These resources are related to various structural, social, political, cultural and Indigenous determinants of health.
If you would like to contribute a resource to this page or have questions, please contact us.
Click here to be notified when new resources are added to this collection.
Visit other NCCs for additional COVID-19 resources
You can search the NCCDH Hub for resources by topic:
Access to health services
Healthy public policy
Pandemic / emergency planning
Racism / racialization
Reporting and measurement
Sex and gender
You can also search the Hub for resources by type:
Since mid-2020, there have been many learning and engagement opportunities around topics related to COVID-19 and health equity that are relevant for public health actors and intersectoral partners.
To track these events in one place, NCCDH staff have initiated a COVID-19 and health equity online calendar. Here, we will list relevant events (e.g. webinars) hosted by the NCCDH as well as other organizations. Please note that the NCCDH does not necessarily endorse the content of external events.
National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health: Environmental health resources for the COVID-19 pandemic
National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy: Public health ethics and COVID-19: Selected resources
National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health: Information specific to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities
National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases: Podcast: Infectious questions: What health professionals need to know about 2019-nCoV and COVID-19
National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools: Rapid evidence reviews on COVID-19
The second release in our Let’s Talk series, Let's Talk: Public health roles for improving health equity, offers public health organizations a framework for reflection and action.
The public health roles speak to four categories of action that can guide an organization’s efforts to reduce disparities in health. They are a health equity framework that can help you set priorities and make decisions:
Role 1: Assess and report
Role 2: Modify and orient interventions
Role 3: Partner with other sectors
Assess and report on a) the existence and impact of health inequities, and b) effective strategies to reduce these inequities.
Assess and report includes public health surveillance activities, specifically “the ongoing systematic collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of health data for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health action” (Choi, 2012). It also includes assessing and reporting effective strategies to reduce inequities.
Four of the promising practices, identified to guide local public health practice to reduce social inequities in health, are related to assessment and reporting: purposeful reporting, health equity target setting, equity-focused health impact assessment and contributing to the evidence base.
Highlights from projects
Population health status reporting is a vital tool for addressing the social determinants of health and advancing health equity. The way that health data is collected, analyzed and shared shapes our perceptions of population health and influences our ability to act. Public health practitioners and organizations from across Canada have identified the need for resources, tools and collaborative learning on population health status reporting. In 2012, we hosted a national learning circle of practitioners and academics engaged in knowledge exchange and synthesis. Capital Health (Halifax) served as an applied practice site, as they integrated a health equity lens into their first population health status report. Evidence and knowledge gathered over the learning circle process were disseminated to our audience through nine synthesis documents, four videos and numerous events.
Equity-integrated population health status reporting: Action framework
The NCCDH, with contributions from each of the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health, has completed a Population Health Status Reporting – Toolkit Project.
This resource presents an accessible action framework for people who are creating community health status reports, as well as people interested in learning how to use PHSR to drive action on improving health equity.
For more information, click here.
Modify and orient interventions and services to help reduce inequities, with an understanding of the unique needs of populations that experience marginalization.
It is essential for public health programs to reach populations that experience marginalization. Programs and services must be planned, implemented and evaluated with a consideration of equity.
Three of the promising practices, identified to guide local public health practice to reduce social inequities in health, are related to modify and orient: targeting with universalism, equity-focused health impact assessment, and early childhood development.
Highlights from projects
Let’s Talk… Universal and targeted approaches to health equity, part of the Let’s talk series, explored targeted, universal and blended approaches to public health interventions. In Let’ talk …Universal and targeted approaches to health equity a number of conceptual examples were given to help clarify the theory.
Real-world examples are in development to help public health staff better understand how targeted and universal approaches can be blended to achieve better population health outcomes. The first, Learning from practice: Targeting within universalism at Capital Health, can be found here.
Because most of the social determinants of health lie outside of the health sector, working with multiple partners - including government, community organizations, communities, and specific populations - is an essential part of public health practice, especially considering that differences in our health are influenced by economic and societal factors.
Two promising practices, identified to guide local public health practice to reduce social inequities in health, are related to partner with other sectors: intersectoral action and community engagement.
Highlights from projects
In 2012, we released an expedited systematic review as part of our effort to explore “what works” to improve health equity through action on the social determinants of health. This review examines the question, “What is the impact and effectiveness of intersectoral action as a public health practice for health equity through action on the social determinants of health?” In 2013, we published an article about this study.
In 2013, a reference guide that describes 16 community engagement frameworks was created, as public health practitioners are increasingly using community engagement strategies.
Upcoming – stay tuned!
The NCCDH will release additional case examples that will highlight the role of partnering with other sectors and the community.
In early 2014, we dropped work on a review of reviews about the effectiveness of community engagement by public health to address determinants of health because a substantive, multi-faceted U.K. study was released that researched similar questions. We are summarizing and analyzing this new U.K. study – you’ll see our findings in products and events in 2014.
Lead, support and participate with other organizations in policy analysis and development, and in advocacy for improvements in health determinants and inequities.
Participating in policy development and advocacy is a key role for public health to improve health equity because policies that promote health improve conditions where people live, work and play.
Three of the promising practices, identified to guide local public health practice to reduce social inequities in health, are related to policy development and advocacy: health equity target setting, intersectoral action and community engagement.
The NCCPH program has an NCC that is fully focused on healthy public policy. Because of this, the NCCDH doesn’t emphasize this role. At the NCCDH we partner with the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy and other NCCs on resources that look at policy development and advocacy with a view that critically considers the social determinants of health and health equity. Visit the NCC for healthy public policy for more resources related to policy development and advocacy.
Highlights from projects are:
Tools and approaches for assessing and supporting public health action on the social determinants of health and health equity is a joint NCCDH and NCCHPP document that offers analysis of various tools including the capacity og each to create policy recommendations.
Health Equity Tools for Policy Change is a powerpoint presentation given by NCCDH staff to a gathering of 400 people at THRIVE! The tools is describes, from Alberta, Australia and the European Union, have been used widely to improve the equity outcome of policies and programs.
In addition to partnering with our funder, the Public Health Agency of Canada; our host, St. Francis Xavier University; and our five sister centres, the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health, the NCCDH has collaborated with a number of organizations in Canada over the past year.
The NCCDH has partnered/collaborated with the following organizations to lead an initiative, product or event.
Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education, Government of Alberta
Alliance for Healthier Communities (formerly the Association of Ontario Health Centres)
Association of Ontario Midwives
Government of the Northwest Territory, Aboriginal Health & Community Wellness Division
Ontario Public Health Association
Provincial Health Services Authority (British Columbia)
Public Health Ontario
Aboriginal Service, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (Ontario)
City of Vancouver (British Columbia)
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (Ontario)
Direction de santé publique de la capitale Nationale (Quebec)
Middlesex London Health Unit (Ontario)
Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (Ontario)
Ottawa Public Health (Ontario)
Peterborough Public Health (Ontario)
Interior Health (British Columbia)
Soul of the Mother (Ontario)
Public Health Sudbury and Districts (Ontario)
Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) (Ontario)
Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle (TIHAC) (Ontario)
Toronto Public Health (Ontario)
Wellesley Institute (Ontario)
Western University (Ontario)
The NCCDH has been invited to contribute to initiatives, products or events led by the following other organizations.
Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital (Ontario)
La Chaire de recherche du Canada Approches communautaires et inégalités de santé, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montreal (Quebec)
Collaborative community laboratory on substance use and harm reduction or “Co/Lab” (University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research) (British Columbia)
Multisectoral Urban Systems for Health & Equity in Canadian Cities (MUSE) (Canada)
SPARK: Screening for Poverty And Related social determinants and intervening to improve Knowledge of and links to resources (SPARK) Study (Ontario)
Queen’s University (Ontario)
University of Victoria (British Columbia)
Université de Montréal (Quebec)
Weaving racial equity into organizational change
At the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), we provide the Canadian public health community with knowledge and resources to take action on the social determinants of health, to close the difference in health across the social gradient.
We work with the public health field to move knowledge into action—in practice, in policy and in decision making—to achieve societal improvements that result in health for all.
Progress has been made, however racism continues to profoundly impact health and wellbeing both directly and through other social determinants of health. We recognize that racial equity makes us all stronger and healthier.
As a knowledge translation organization, we acknowledge the role racism plays in shaping who we are, what we know and how we come to know it. The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health is committed to weaving racial equity into all aspects of our work. This includes more consistent application of different ways of knowing and drawing from a more diverse pool of knowledge generators as we develop resources and organize learning activities and broadening and developing a more diverse network. We are shifting our internal practices and organizational culture and embedding racial equity into every day decisions and practices. We are committed to building a multi-racial team equipped to steward racial equity.
We are committed to sharing our experiences with others, learning from the work of others and maintaining transparency as we learn and grow.
Our work is supported by an internal workgroup and an external advisory group.
- Faith Layden, Program Manager
- Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh, Senior Knowledge Translation Specialist
- Jaime Stief, Communications Assistant
- Danielle MacDonald, Research Assistant
- Rod Knight, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
- Corey Bernard, Manager of Patient Engagement, Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network
- Nancy Laliberte, Ph.D. student, University of British Columbia
For an overview of this process, please read the following blog posts by NCCDH management:
- Becoming anti-racist: Small steps along the way (2017) and
- Becoming anti-racist: An NCCDH initiative (2017)
- NCCDH staff becoming anti-racist through informed dialogue: 1 of 2 (2018)
- NCCDH staff becoming anti-racist through informed dialogue: 2 of 2 (2018)
- Thoughts on trying to achieve anti-racist leadership (2019)
- Integrating equity into employment (2019)
- Insights from the NCCDH’s racial equity journey (2019)
To view NCCDH events and webinars relating to anti-racist and/or decolonizing action in public health, click here for a webinar titled: Whiteness and health equity, or click here for a webinar titled: Can understanding Whiteness improve anti-racism activities in health?.
We invite others engaged and interested in this work to reach out to us.
Photo credit: Markus Spiske
To register for the PHESC on-demand webinar series, click here.
The Public Health Training for Equitable Systems Change (PHESC) project is an exciting collaboration between the NCCDH, the University of Toronto, the NCCs for Methods and Tools and Healthy Public Policy, the Alliance for Healthier Communities, the Ontario Public Health Association, Public Health Ontario and the Wellesley Institute.
Training for Ontario public health units
Funded by a grant from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the purpose of the project is to design and create a comprehensive training plan to improve knowledge, skills and performance of Ontario’s public health workforce while integrating a health equity approach.
Implementing Ontario Public Health Standards
Guided by the Ontario Health Equity Guideline, 2018, the NCCDH has developed an interactive and participatory training program for all public health staff, professionals and leaders in Ontario. The NCCDH will be offering a series of webinars (click here to register), in-person workshops, practice tools and resources in order to support Ontario Public Health Units operationalizing the health equity requirements of the Ontario Public Health Standards.
To learn about the on-demand webinars in this series, click here.
To learn about the Ontario-based, in-person workshops in this series, click here.
Photo credit: PHESC
The NCCDH has launched a 20-month participatory initiative to test ways to develop organizational capacity to advance health equity (project overview). The project, called the Organizational Capacity for Health Equity Action Initiative (OCI), is using an international learning circle, working in tandem with two practice sites to learn what frameworks, strategies and organizational conditions are most useful and effective to develop and sustain Canadian public health organizational capacity for health equity action.
We are currently working with two organizations, each with a focus on a specific public health challenge of interest to multiple programs. The sites represent different organizational models (e.g., health unit, department within health authority) and differing contexts (e.g., rural and urban, and geography/population size served by department). The practice sites will engage in exchange and co-learning among the other sites involved.
For more information, please review the sections below or contact Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh.
Practice sites serve as the heart of this project, and each is supported by an NCCDH knowledge translation specialist. The sites are designing and implementing organizational enhancement projects that are working towards organizational-level change.
Learn more about the participating site projects below.
|Site name||Project description|
Interior Health (BC)
|Implementing a health equity lens in opioid overdose surveillance and reporting
The project aims to support the implementation of a health equity lens in the reporting, monitoring and surveillance practices related to the overdose crisis, guided by the Equity-integrated PHSR (EI-PHSR) action framework.
Ottawa Public Health (ON)
|Client and community engagement
OPH will develop a departmental client and community engagement framework and an engagement policy that incorporate a health equity/SDOH perspective.
Check back to this page for updates on the project, or subscribe to the NCCDH mailing list.
Based on participatory learning and using resulting resources, at the end of the initiative, public health practitioners and organizations will be able to:
- describe components of organizational capacity needed to enable health equity action;
- understand the organizational enablers and barriers to health equity action; and
- identity tools to support health equity–oriented organizational capacity.
The initiative is led and facilitated by the NCCDH in collaboration with participants. The NCCDH serves as the convenor and provides direct support to the practice sites
The initiative will bring together both reviewed literature and emerging knowledge arising through research currently under way
Targeted evidence drawn from the published and a grey literature base will include organizational change/capacity methodology, as well as health equity theory, methods and tools — especially those aimed at organizational-level change. Experiential evidence, primarily from the practice sites, will be incorporated into the project’s evidence identification and assessment.
This project uses a learning circle to integrate evidence, expert opinion and practice-based innovation and learning. The learning circle is composed of practitioners and researchers, including representatives from practice sites.
Learning circle members will identify key health equity organizational capacity issues and challenges and will study these issues throughout the course of the initiative. The circle meets every two months.
Each meeting is a facilitated discussion on a specific theme. The discussion is supported by an evidence backgrounder. At the end of each meeting, the learning circle conversation will be synthesized, shared with circle members and translated in summary form.
The NCCDH is hosting a series of webinars to discuss ways to strengthen organizational capacity for health equity.
Check back here for new webinars in the series.
Webinar 3: Living health equity values within public health organizations
The NCCDH will be releasing a series of knowledge products related to the topics of the Organizational Capacity Initiative Learning Circles.
Check back here for new knowledge products.
Join the NCCDH’s Health Equity Clicks: Community to follow discussions related to Organizational Capacity Initiative project work, among other topics.
Discussion 3: Organizational capacity for health equity action
Evaluation is expected to incorporate:
- assessment of fulfillment of objectives;
- quantitative measures regarding adherence to plan, schedule, milestones, outputs and dissemination/reach;
- qualitative information regarding participant experiences;
- lessons learned; and
- improvements that can be applied to future projects.
Do you work in public health? Are you responsible for supporting your organization’s work on the social determinants of health and health equity? If you answered yes to both questions:
Join a network of other professionals who are committed to amplifying their public health equity practice.
The Health Equity Collaborative Network is a network of practitioners and researchers who share practices and experience, build relationships for information exchange and support, build capacity, advance knowledge of effectiveness, and share other information related to the social determinants of health and health equity.
The objectives of the Health Equity Collaborative Network are to support public health practice on the social determinants of health and health equity. Specifically, to:
- Provide a platform to share learning and experience in supporting organizational commitments;
- Increase knowledge and access to research and practice-based evidence on current issues (e.g., racial equity, COVID-19);
- Enhance the knowledge and skills of members;
- Increase connections and collaboration between and among public health practitioners and researchers;
- Provide a space for problem-solving and provide opportunities to act together and influence systems change.
Members of the network meet on a quarterly basis via teleconference/webinar.
Is the Network for me?
- have an explicit responsibility for social determinants of health and health equity at the local, regional, provincial/territorial levels within their organizations;
- act as a conduit between the network and their own networks by providing ongoing updates and sharing information; and
- participate actively in Network activities (i.e., attend regular meetings, share resources, visit and contribute to the Network’s collaborative webspace).
To join the network please contact Rebecca Cheff, Knowledge Translation Specialist.
See the newsletter archives below.
The Let’s Talk Series is a collection of resources designed to promote discussion and understanding of how key concepts in health equity apply in public health practice. Each resource contains discussion questions to spark dialogue, reflection, and action to address the social determinants of health.
The Glossary of Essential Health Equity Terms is intended to enhance effective communication and action on the social and structural determinants of health and health equity. Having consistent terminology and understanding of concepts allows for greater clarity on points of influence and impact for action on health equity.
This 2022 version of the Glossary of Essential Health Equity Terms (an evolution and expansion of the 2014 version) contains 32 terms identified through consultation with public health practitioners and other key informants across Canada. Descriptions for each term were developed through an extensive review of existing glossaries from other sources, academic and grey literature. These were validated via survey feedback from public health colleagues across Canada. A number of citations are included within each definition – each citation number will link to the full citation within the reference list.
Recognizing that language is influenced by context and culture, we undertook separate development processes for the English and French glossaries, which are complementary but are not direct translations of each other. This process was extremely powerful and enlightening for both the developers of this glossary and for those who provided feedback, revealing new understandings of concepts and resulting in a higher quality of both the English and French versions. You can access the French glossary here.
Terms are organized into four groupings – Core Concepts, Roots of Health, Relative Influences, and Interventions & Strategies. Each grouping includes a number of related terms. Each term has a drop down option to reveal the description and related NCCDH resources to support further understanding and application of the concept.
We’d love to hear from you! Did you find the term you were looking for? If you have any comments or feedback on the glossary, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Acknowledgements & Suggested Citation
Thank you to the public health professionals who provided feedback through the initial user survey, validation, and focus testing phases. It is this guidance from the field that resulted in the terms selected and descriptions written.
Research, writing, and conceptualization by Dianne Oickle, Knowledge Translation Specialist. Developmental work, internal scoping and external partner consultations by Claire O’Gorman, formerly with NCCDH.
Webpage and content support by Caralyn Vossen, Knowledge Translation Coordinator. Internal guidance and review by Claire Betker, Scientific Director.
Thank you to our partner RÉFIPS (Réseau francophone international pour la promotion de la santé) in the development of the French version of the glossary Glossaire des principaux concepts liés à l’équité en santé
Please cite information contained in the document as follows: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2022). Glossary of essential health equity terms. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.
Production of this document has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada through funding for the NCCDH. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Last updated March 2022
National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health
St. Francis Xavier University
2400 Mount Saint Bernard
Camden Hall, 2nd Floor
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2G 2W5
Telephone: (902) 867-6133
We would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.
We acknowledge this land not only in thanks to the Indigenous communities who have held relationship with this land for generations but also in recognition of the historical and on-going legacy of colonialism.
Out of respect for the important work of reconciliation, we encourage you to contact us if you can suggest a way improve upon our statement above.
Thank you for your interest in the NCCDH. There are no employment opportunities available at this time.
Established in 2005 and funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) for Public Health produce information to help public health professionals improve their response to public health threats, chronic disease and injury, infectious diseases and health inequities. The NCCs are located across Canada, and each focuses on a different public health priority.
The six centres are:
- National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH)
- National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH)
- National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease (NCCID)
- National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT)
- National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP)
- National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH)
The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health is proud to work closely with the other National Collaborating Centres for Public Health on several joint projects and initiatives.
With other NCCs, we have:
- developed resources to support health equity across Canada;
- partnered at user forums, conference presentations and workshops;
- coordinated joint webinars.
To learn more about the NCCPH program click here.
Effective communication is an important overarching factor to drive action about population level health differences that are avoidable, and therefore considered unfair.
Public health practitioners have an important role in communicating that where people live, work, play and learn has an effect on their opportunities to be healthy. Public health practitioners need to be enabled to understand and talk about how differences in health that are influenced by social and economic factors.
One of the promising practices, identified to guide local public health practice to reduce social inequities in health, is related to communication: social marketing.
Highlights from projects
Our Let’s Talk documents promote understanding of key concepts and contains questions to spark discussions. Two in this series especially focuses on terminology and how we use language: Let’s talk... Health equity and Let’s talk...Population and the power of language.
Upcoming – stay tuned!
In 2014, we will be releasing web-based French and English glossaries, with the purpose of moving toward a common understanding of essential terms.
In 2014, the Canadian Council on Social Determinants of Health, an intersectoral advisory committee to the Public Health Agency of Canada, released the document Communicating the social determinants of health: Guidelines for common messaging. In partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association we will release a resource to help practitioners to apply the guidelines.
Leadership is needed to build the capacity of public health practitioners, organizations and the field in general to improve the conditions where we live, work and play, and, ultimately, the health of our society.
In the 2008, the Chief Public Health Officer's report of Canada's strong, visionary leadership and shared as a common characteristic of jurisdictions That-have stepped ahead in health equity work. Leadership emerged as central to health equity work in our 2010 environmental scan and is a domain in the 2012 Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada.
One of the promising practices identified to help public health practice at the local level reduce social inequities in health, is related to leadership and capacity: Competencies and organizational standards.
Highlights from projects
To Identify the factors and conditions that effectively influence public health leadership to address the social determinants of health and health equity, we conducted appreciative inquiry interviews with 14 public health leaders. The postponement What Contributes to successful public health leadership for health equity? An appreciative inquiry summarizes the findings and provides examples from Canadian public health practice.
In 2013, we explored the use of "organizational standards" to make social inequities in public health priority. Public Health Speaks: Organizational standards as a promising practice for health equity is a summary of four interviews with Canadian public health experts reflecting on their experiences using "standards" to support organizational frameworks and renewal processes.
To help managers and practitioners in the field find the right race for their professional development, we conducted a scan for online courses, in English and French, that were designed to increase participants' knowledge and skills in working towards health equity through the social determinants. To learn more about the methods for this work, click here. We also completed a brief assessment of each course for quality and relevance, resulting and recommended in 12 courses.
Upcoming - Stay tuned!
A scoping literature review and a qualitative synthesis of literature about effective public health leadership, and enablers and barriers to leadership capacity regarding health equity, are in development.
Additional examples are forthcoming, including a description of leadership in the Western Health Authority in Newfoundland and Labrador. A case study of Ontario's social determinants of health nurses will profile leadership by staff who aren't managers.
At the NCCDH, to advance social determinants of health and health equity through public health practice and policy, we
- translate and share knowledge and evidence to influence interrelated determinants
- support the uptake and exchange of information, products and services
- identify gaps in research and practice
- engage in collaborative learning projects and support translation of applied research
- support inter-personal and inter-organizational connections that enable strong relationships
Our strategic priorities are significantly informed by our Advisory Board; the 2010 and 2013 pan-Canadian environmental scans, and 10 promising practices to guide local public health practice to reduce inequities in health.
In this part of our website, we profile our projects in relation to public health roles that we promote to improve health equity. All of these roles come from our 2010 environmental scan; four primary roles are explained further in our Let’s talk: Roles for improving health equity. Our projects are organized under the most aligned role, although we recognize that many projects cross-cut two or more roles.
- Assess and report
- Participate in policy development and advocacy
- Partner with other sectors
- Modify and orient interventions
- Leadership and capacity
In each section of this part of the website, we briefly describe the role, highlights from several related projects, summaries of projects in development, and direct you to published resources, events, blogs and Health Equity Clicks: Community conversations.
This list is an evolving scan of public health and health organizations that are taking action on the social determinants of health and advancing health equity.
Health Equity Clicks: Organizations will be of interest to public health practitioners and researchers across the country, and is designed to:
- Enhance knowledge about key players that support action on the determinants of health
- Increase connections among public health professionals who address health equity
This list of organizations builds on the 2010 NCCDH Environmental Scan Integrating Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity into Canadian Public Health Practice. In 2012, the Canadian Institute for Health Information - Canadian Population Health Initiative (CIHI-CPHI) shared an internal catalogue describing organizations that generate population health-related knowledge with NCCDH. This catalogue, created in January 2011 and updated in January 2012, has been used to support this online resource by identifying new Canadian and international organizations.
Organizations were identified from:
- The 2010 NCCDH Environmental Scan
- Online searches using key words relevant to the social determinants of health and health equity
- The CIHI-CPHI database profiling organizations that generate population health-related knowledge
- Consultations and feedback received from public health practitioners
The list of organizations is non-comprehensive as Canadian contributions to the social determinants of health and health equity are continuously evolving and progressing. We welcome your input, comments, corrections, updates, and additions. We encourage you to help us strengthen this resource by emailing us your suggestions. We will update this list on a bi-annual basis based on feedback received with the goal of making it as useful as possible to practitioners and researchers in the field.
We will be in touch soon to address you suggestions, concerns and questions. Thanks for your time.
Integrating health equity and the social determinants of health into Canadian public health practice.
At the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), we provide the Canadian public health community with knowledge and resources to take action on the social determinants of health, to close the gap between those who are most and least healthy.
We work with the public health field to move knowledge into action—in practice, in policy and in decision making—to achieve societal improvements that result in health for all.
We are one of six national collaborating centres funded through a Public Health Agency of Canada program.
We are hosted at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia (Mi’kma’ki).
StFX has a rich history in social justice beginning in the 1920s with the Antigonish Movement. The Movement began, led by Father Jimmy Thompkins and Dr. Moses Coady, as a local community-based movement in response to poverty affecting disadvantaged groups in Eastern Canada. StFX quickly created an Extension Department to teach and use these community actions and adult education methods. After World War II, the Coady International Institute was founded to continue this work with an international audience. The Institute is well respected worldwide as a centre for leadership education about community-based development. Situating the NCCDH here furthers StFX’s deep commitment to applying knowledge to social change.
We would like to acknowledge this sacred land on which the NCCDH operates. We acknowledge that we are located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations. We acknowledge this land in thanks to the Mi’kmaq people who have held relationship with this land for generations and to recognize the historical and ongoing reality of colonialism.
Out of respect for the important work of reconciliation, we encourage you to contact us if you can suggest a way improve upon our statement above.
Public health organizations and practitioners address determinants of health through multiple means. Based on the findings of our 2010 environmental scan, the NCCDH decided on a focused knowledge translation analysis of current interventions that have a basis of success, starting with ten practices identified as ‘promising’ by the Sudbury and District Health Unit.
To find out more about these promising practices we conducted an expedited systematic review about intersectoral action as a public health strategy to address the social determinants of health.
We are currently
- Synthesizing evidence about community engagement as a public health method to influence knowledge and action related to the social determinants of health
- Developing a process to assess evidence on the use of core competencies and organizational standards by public health as techniques to advance organizational commitment to reducing health inequities
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Our Advisory Board provides advice to our Scientific Director to inform and influence our work. The Board members bring a pan-Canadian perspective, and act as a liaison between our Centre and public health practitioners, students, researchers, policy makers and community groups. Members are practitioners and academics from most Canadian provinces and territories who come from a range of expertise, backgrounds and networks.
Population health status reporting is a vital tool for addressing the social determinants of health and advancing health equity. The way that health data is collected and shared shapes our perceptions of population health and influences our ability to support action. Public health practitioners and organizations from across Canada have identified the need for resources, tools, and collaborative learning on this topic.
The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health is working to enhance reporting by supporting an initiative that engages in collaborating learning, synthesis and reflection. Through a series of discussions, demonstrations, and presentations the NCCDH is hosting a learning circle. Our learning circle includes managers, directors, researchers, epidemiologists, and medical officers of health from across Canada. The learning circle provides advice and new skills to support Capital Health in Halifax as they work to integrate a health equity lens into their first population health status report for 2013.
To learn more...
-Visit our new YouTube channel, to watch four new videos on population health status reporting
-Read related blog posts
- Integrating Health Equity into Population Health Status Reporting
- What is the Purpose of Population Health Status Reporting in Canada?
- Selecting population health status indicators to advance health equity
- Ethics & best practices for the access and use of external data
-Start a discussion about population health status reporting in Health Equity Clicks, our online community. You can also read through a past discussion called "What are the best indicators for assessing and supporting health equity in the delivery of public health programs and services?"
One of four videos available on our YouTube Channel: Integrating health equity into population health status reporting - The role of public health
We are dedicated to facilitating knowledge exchange between and among public health practitioners, researchers, and decision makers working to advance health equity. To help keep track of exchange opportunities related to public health, the social determinants of health, and health equity, we have created an Workshops & Events section. As in the Resource Library, we have categorized each event so that they are easy to browse by topic or by type.
Ongoing exchange opportunities also exist within our online network. To learn more, and to become a founding member, visit Health Equity Clicks: Community.
Our health is determined to a large extent by the conditions of everyday life, and by the systems put in place to promote health, prevent disease, and support us when we get sick. The ‘social determinants of health’ (SDH) is a name given to the many social conditions that interact to influence our health and well-being, the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health wrote in their final report that the “unequal distribution of health-damaging experiences is not in any sense a ‘natural phenomenon but is the result of a toxic combination of poor social policies and programs, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics.”
The WHO Commission proposes three overarching recommendations for action to improve the SDH, including:
- Improve daily living conditions;
- Tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources;
- Measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action.
Explore key historical documents and resources to learn more about the social determinants of health.
Our resource library contains more than 350 resources. The library is evolving, as we continue to add resources that are relevant, geared to practice, and either recently published or foundational to current health equity thinking in public health. To suggest a new resource or to learn more about our resource selection process, please contact us.
The right-hand side bar offers two options to search this library:
- You can use the search box by entering the title of a document, part of a title, an author or a key word. This search function is sensitive to spelling.
- You can choose options from some or all of the categories, including searching only NCCDH produced resources.
We also have several curated reading lists available.
In 2010, we conducted an environmental scan to learn more about the needs of public health professionals in their efforts to integrate knowledge on the social determinants of health into their work. Respondents from across Canada agreed that public health leaders and organizations play a vital role in advancing health equity.
In his first Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, David Butler-Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said
“high-level leadership in all sectors – health and otherwise – is crucial to reducing health inequalities.”
But what factors enable public health leadership? And how are these factors different across Canada? Our aim is to analyze and translate knowledge about public health leadership to help leaders improve and mitigate the effects of social determinants of health and advance health equity. Our intent is to identify effective practices, describe enablers and barriers that influence leadership, and identify tools and strategies to support leaders.
We will do this by means of:
- A rapid systematic review of literature;
- Appreciative inquiry with leaders and case learning
Recordings of past webinars are linked from the event page listed below, and can also be found on our YouTube channel. Webinars are typically available in the language in which they were delivered.
Please note that events appear in Eastern Standard Time, and titles reflect the primary language of delivery.
Our work is related to the social determinants of health and/or health equity, and we focus specifically on public health organizations and practitioners.
Each of our current initiatives is informed by the results of a pan-Canadian environmental scan, Integrating Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity into Canadian Public Health Practice.
Visit the following pages for more information:
- The Promising Practices for Health Equity
- Public Health Leadership
- Population Health Status Reporting
In this section you will find background information on the social determinants of health, a listing of resources produced by the NCCDH, as well as a collection of resources we are calling our Resource Library. The resource library is not comprehensive and will evolve over time.
We will continue to ensure that additions to our resource library are relevant and evidence-informed, and your feedback is welcome. To suggest a new resource or to learn more about our resource selection process, please contact us.