When Canadians think about health, they almost always start with health care—access to a doctor, to a hospital or to advanced technologies like MRI machines. When asked about what makes them healthy, they might include lifestyle choices like diet, exercise or quitting smoking. And many are aware that their own health might one day be affected by the same diseases—diabetes, heart disease or cancer—that are part of their family medical history. But what about having a safe job that pays a decent wage? Or affordable housing? Or living in a supportive and safe community? How important are the social, economic, cultural and political conditions of a society in creating and sustaining the equitable distribution of health in a society like Canada’s?
What too few people realize is that, as André Picard writes in his Foreword to Redistributing Health, “social justice—or lack thereof has a greater impact on the health of the population than the human genome, lifestyle choice, and medical treatment.” The truth is that things like poverty, social exclusion, lack of meaningful employment, and lack of access to education or good housing contribute significantly to ill-health in Canada—and none of these will be remedied by doctors or hospitals or pill bottles.
Redistributing Health explores the theory, ethics and practice of critical population health research as it aims to change policy, politics, outcomes, and the socio-economic dynamics that underpin the health of populations in Canada.
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