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Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s approach to addressing the determinants of health: A health equity framework

This resource is only available in English.

Integrating concepts around social determinants of health into organization-level plans is considered a strategy for establishing organizational commitment to taking action on health equity. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) approach to addressing the determinants of health: A health equity framework provided the foundation for the SMDHU 2012-2016 strategic plan, which cited a commitment to reducing health inequities among population groups. This, in turn, has informed the development of the SMDHU 2019–2022 strategic plan, which continues this direction through stated values including equity, and a priority area to enhance relationships with priority populations to address the social determinants of health.

Anatomy of the framework

This framework was developed to support public health staff at the SMDHU to support outcomes including:

  • priority populations at risk of health inequities being prioritized for comprehensive agency response; and
  • implementation of an action plan to address risk conditions to meet their public health needs.

A glossary of common terminology related to addressing health equity is included, as well as information and references for understanding various models on the social determinants of health, and the theoretical bases for the framework.

A section to guide the identification of priority populations identifies key terminology, data sources and methods for determining priority populations that are at greater risk of health outcomes due to socioeconomic circumstances. The resource also provides background information on the political and governmental influences on public health system priorities. In addition, it addresses how to determine need, impact, capacity and partnership collaboration opportunities.

Applications to NCCDH resources

Examples of how SMDHU actions apply to the NCCDH’s Public health roles for action on health equity and capacity-building strategies illustrate the application of these principles to public health programs and priorities. A series of recommendations for public health action by SMDHU staff are included, as well as several appendices outlining key organizational documents, data describing the area’s population health status and examples of external tools for use in planning and prioritization. 

Use this resource to

  • facilitate discussion about how public health organizational documents can integrate health equity as a key area of focus;
  • develop a framework for addressing health inequities through program development and prioritization; and
  • consider how public health actions align with the NCCDH public health roles and capacity building strategies to identify areas for further development to address health equity.


Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. (2012). Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Approach to Addressing the Determinants of Health: A Health Equity Framework. Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. Barrie (ON).

Tags: Competencies & organizational standards , Leadership & capacity building, Public health unit / health authority, Public Health Organization, Link

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