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Alberta Health Services: Establishing a province-wide social determinants of health and health equity approach

Cette ressource est aussi disponible en français.

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 Alberta Health Services (AHS). Formed in 2008, after a re-organization of provincial health services, AHS quickly identified health equity as a strategic priority and established targets to improve equity in the province’s population health outcomes. The speed and clarity of this direction was due to the leadership qualities of senior and frontline managers, strategic planners, practitioners, and community partners. 

The progress of AHS did not come without challenges, including one as fundamental as a common understanding of “health equity.” In the planning stages, the lack of (and need for) population health data at the local level became apparent. Other challenges related to the job of integrating a health equity approach across the diverse programs and service delivery locations of the health authority.

Use this resource to

  • Enhance your understanding of the factors that identify — and the conditions that nurture — leaders for health equity
  • Facilitate a discussion about the factors that create strong organizational support for leadership and health equity work
  • Reflect on ways to support and build the capacity of community partners doing and providing leadership to  equity work
  • Build and maintain motivation among Public Health staff for health equity work

Also in this series:



National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2013). Leadership for health equity. Alberta health services: Establishing a province-wide social determinants of health and health equity approach. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

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