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Common agenda for public health action on health equity

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The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) collaborates with and engages public health practitioners, researchers, and decision-makers across Canada on the question of how to strengthen the social determinants of health and improve health equity. 

Through knowledge exchange, learning and networking activities, these stakeholders have identified challenges they face, priorities they are already engaged in, and areas for more focus and collaboration.  This common agenda was developed through a synthesis of documents from these activities (including past NCCDH event reports, environmental scans, and meeting notes), and staff observations during network development activities and consultations. These sources represent the voices of thousands of public health actors from every province and territory in Canada. 

A summary of this report is also available here.

The Common Agenda identifies eight priorities organized under three themes for public health stakeholders:

1. Build a foundation for action

  • Strengthen public health leadership
  • Increase social and political support (political will) and action
  • Build organizational and system capacity

2. Establish and use strong knowledge base

  • Act on existing evidence and strengthen the knowledge base to support concerted action
  • Incorporate equity considerations into regular monitoring, surveillance and reporting

3. Collaborate with non-health sector partners

  • Participate in long-term, multisectoral action
  • Advocate for policy and structural change
  • Allocate time and resources for meaningful sustained community engagement and political empowerment 

These priorities build on existing momentum to improve health equity in Canada and can support policy makers, practitioners and organizations at all levels to influence the social determinants of health. While this document was developed for public health, the priorities acknowledge that this work happens in collaboration with health and non-health partners, and community stakeholders. 

Use this resource to:

  • Identify approaches to guide organizational and systems action needed to improve health equity.
  • Facilitate discussions about common health equity action priorities with internal and external partners.
  • Evaluate current health equity activities and develop strategies to bridge gaps in action. 

Related resources:

Advancing provincial and territorial public health capacity for health equity: Proceedings

Boosting momentum: Applying knowledge to advance health equity - 2014 Environmental scan

Integrating social determinants of health and health equity into Canadian public health practice - 2010 Environmental scan

Taking stock of the social determinants of health: A scoping review (2017)


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2016). Common Agenda for Public Health Action on Health Equity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Healthy public policy, Intersectoral action, Leadership & capacity building, Methods & tools, Participate in policy development, Document, Report / Document