Why would health workers, who take care of us when we’re sick or injured, call for an increased minimum wage or paid sick days? Because they know that having fair jobs with living incomes increase our ability to be and stay healthy.
Income inequality in the GTA creates avoidable health differences. This means that some Torontonians have more opportunity and ability to be healthy than others. Specifically, low income groups in Toronto are more likely to have worse health – lower life expectancy, poorer infant health and higher diabetes rates – than high income groups. We have failed to change this reality in the last 12 years.
In Toronto and across Canada, social and economic factors such as income, education, and housing, have the largest impact on our health. Engaging in the public policy process is necessary if we want to see movement on the avoidable health inequities we see across our city. Policy advocacy aims to influence local, provincial or federal policies, and includes a range of strategies: conducting research, mobilizing community members, working with the media, holding public events, working through the legal system, building coalition of organizations, educating the public, sharing expert opinions, registering voters, and working directly with politicians or public servants (Guo & Saxton, 2010).
About this Research
This research uses applied policy research and knowledge mobilization to explore and enhance the role and capacity of the health sector (e.g. hospital, community health centres, public health units) to respond to the systemic drivers of health inequities such as income inequality, precarious jobs and discrimination.
This project will focus on community health centres, which are one part of our health system that concentrate on addressing health inequities. Community health centres (CHC) bring together health workers with a variety of skills (such as nurse practitioners, dieticians and health promoters). There are over 20 CHCs across the GTA. Some work with particular neighbourhoods while others work with particular populations such as youth, women, and newcomers. CHCs aim to help individuals when they are sick or injured, and also work to ensure communities have the resources to be and stay healthy in the first place.
This research project will include:
- Grounded theory interviews will be conducted with leaders at community health centres across the GTA to understand how CHCs are responding to systemic health inequities, how they are using advocacy strategies in their work, and what are their biggest supports and barriers to doing this work
- Research to action: a number of activities will be used to bring together community health centres and health organizations more broadly to determine how to increase our collective capacity to work towards systemic change for health equity
Please contact Rebecca Cheff (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to learn more about this project.
Rebecca Cheff, Bob Gardner Equity Fellow • @RebeccaCheff
As a new Junior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute, Rebecca is working with community health centres to understand and strengthen their advocacy capacity. She is driven to better understand and address the roots of health inequities through action-oriented research and advocacy, in partnership with communities, service providers, and policy makers. She has experience in community engagement and partnered research related to healthy communities, LGBTQ health, and newcomer income security through her work at Access Alliance, CAMH, the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, and the Healthier Cities & Communities Hub at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Rebecca completed her MPH in Health Promotion at the University of Toronto.