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The SDH impacts of resource extraction and development in rural and northern communities

The “boom and bust” cycles associated with natural resource extraction have a significant impact on the social, cultural and economic determinants of health for both individuals and communities. While many resource extraction projects may undertake an environmental impact assessment, the population health inequities that result from these projects are often not accounted for in their design and implementation. There is a need to account for the impact of these projects on the social determinants of health (SDH) so that the resulting health inequities and associated healthcare costs are reduced.

The Northern Health region collaborated with the British Columbia Observatory for Population and Public Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control to produce a report that explores how resource extraction and development in rural and northern communities can influence SDH. This report serves to inform how SDH considerations are incorporated into the assessment and monitoring of natural resource extraction and development projects. Based in a holistic and First Nations perspective on health and wellness, the literature scan and summary of evidence was conducted in consultation with stakeholders for to identify both common impacts of resource development projects on SDH and measures that can be used to assess and monitor these impacts. The literature reported summarizes SDH impacts related to 15 sociocultural determinants of health, including those related to Indigenous self-determination and connections to the land. Environmental, social impact, health impact, socio-ecological, and cumulative assessment frameworks are reviewed, with consideration for common themes and their application to public health. A number of promising principles for the assessment, measurement, and monitoring of impacts on SDH are offered, including the selection of appropriate indicators, qualitative and quantitative methods, and the importance of community involvement in all phases.

Use this resource to

  • facilitate a discussion among PH and other colleagues about the impacts of resource extraction on SDH in rural and northern communities;
  • support a relationship with resource development stakeholders in your community to consider assessment and monitoring processes specific to the SDH; and
  • deepen your understanding of the social impacts of resource development, and how pre-existing inequities can be worsened when these impacts are not accounted for.


Northern Health. (2018).The social determinants of health impacts of resource extraction and development in rural and northern communities: a summary of impacts and promising practices for assessment and monitoring. Northern Health, British Columbia Observatory Population and Public Health, BC Centre for Disease Control. British Columbia, Canada.

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Tags: Assess and report, Environmental health, Healthy public policy, Link

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