BCAHL Policies – Health Inequities

The social determinants of health include the basic financial resources and supportive environments necessary for a healthy life.

Access to income, affordable housing, healthy food, education, early childhood development, and recreational opportunities influence our ability to make healthy choices and ultimately the state of our physical and mental health as well as life expectancy.

Health inequities arise as the result of a concentration of disease risk factors within disadvantaged populations including the social conditions in which people live and work.

Chronic disease arising from socio-economic inequities is a costly economic drain in terms of lost productivity, foregone tax revenue, reduced consumer spending and higher public expenditures. If action is not taken on the social determinants of health then health inequities and costs may actually increase.

Population based health promotion and disease prevention strategies that take an integrated approach to the risk factors are needed along with broader measures to improve social conditions for disadvantaged British Columbians.

BCAHL recommends the following policy options:

  • The provincial government develop a comprehensive, cross-government action plan with specific targets to address health inequities arising from socio-economic disadvantage.
  • A review of policies within the provincial ministries with respect to their impact on the reduction of inequities in health and strengthening chronic disease prevention and that these activities be included in all Ministry Service Plans and be evaluated.
  • The Ministry of Health Services invest in population based health promotion and disease prevention strategies by raising public health funding to 6% of the total health budget from its current funding of approximately 3%.
  • The provincial government engage with other sectors of society – non-profit organizations, business, academia, labour, media, other levels of government and agencies – in developing a coordinated and integrated ‘whole of society’ approach to healthy living.