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Let’s Talk: Advocacy and health equity

Cette ressource est également disponible en français.

This document in our 'Let's Talk' Series highlights the importance of advocacy as a strategy and practice within public health, and describes the different ways advocacy can contribute to addressing the social determinants of health and improving health equity.  It acknowledges the challenge of engaging in advocacy within the Canadian public health context and provides a framework for situating a variety of approaches and resources that could be of help to public health practitioners in their particular context.

Four roles for public health are described, including:

  • Framing the issue
  • Gathering and disseminating data
  • Working in collaboration and developing alliances
  • Using the legal and regulatory system

The case is made for shifting the advocacy focus in public health from individuals and groups to upstream policy and structural changes.
The resource includes discussion questions to help public health staff examine their work and consider whether they have the skills to participate in advocacy, how they can create safe spaces to engage in advocacy, and how to address policy and social change at the structural level.


Use this resource to:

  • explore how the type of advocacy action selected is related to the focus and goal
  • reflect on how the concepts of “market justice” and “social justice” provide a tension in public health advocacy
  • learn about the elements related to the four public health roles within an advocacy strategy
  • support a conversation in your organization about how to create a safe space for moving your advocacy actions further upstream toward structural change


Related Resources:

Companion Document: Key public health resources for advocacy and health equity: A curated list

More from the Let's Talk Series


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2015). Let’s talk: Advocacy for health equity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Community engagement, Healthy public policy, Intersectoral action, Key concepts, Leadership & capacity building, Participate in policy development, Partner with other sectors, Document, Report / Document, Let's Talk