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Leadership for health equity: Working intersectorally and engaging the community in Western Health

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This document is part of the 'Leadership for Health Equity' Series.

As a part of our Public Health leadership initiative, the NCCDH produced a series of case studies profiling instances of leadership to advance health equity in Canada. These documents are learning tools; they are designed to help Public Health staff reflect on the qualities of effective leadership in advancing health equity, as well as on the strategies and conditions that develop and support these qualities in Public Health leaders at all levels. 

This case study profiles the work of Western Health, which provides health services to 78,000 residents of Western Newfoundland.

Western Health’s work to address health inequities builds on a long history of intersectoral collaboration and community engagement. Senior representatives from education, child, youth and family services, and advanced education and skills meet quarterly, on the Linkages Committee, to share ideas and solve problems. The committee’s efforts are “at the core…. about maintaining relationships,” according to a senior manager.

Western Health engages directly with communities through Local Community Advisory Committees that make decisions based on data from a tri-annual community needs assessment.

Interviewees said their success results from supportive leadership, positions dedicated to community engagement, and a history and culture of collaboration. Their challenges relate to protecting the time needed to collaborate effectively, finding common language to describe inequities and the responses needed, evaluating program impacts, and build organizational capacity. 

Use this resource to

  • enhance your understanding of the conditions and systems that nurture intersectoral action and community engagement;
  • facilitate a discussion about the factors that create strong organizational support for leadership and health equity work;
  • learn how evidence can be used to favour a health equity approach to health priorities; and
  • support the work of community partners doing social determinants work.


More from this series:



National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2014). Working intersectorally and engaging the community in Western Health. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health.

Tags: Intersectoral action, Leadership & capacity building, Document, Case Study, Leadership for Health Equity