Daphne Bramham: Healthy communities require more than medical care
Canadians have among the highest life expectancy in the world even though it dipped slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic and, for British Columbian men, has been dropping due to the continuing epidemic of illicit drug overdoses.
That’s slim consolation to the millions of Canadians who have no family doctor, whose wait times for surgeries, cancer treatments and other procedures fall far outside the guidelines, or to those who have waited unconscionably long hours in emergency rooms.
The point is that Canada has done a lot of things right. But despite what the premiers, territorial leaders and others might suggest, maintaining a healthy population requires more than just pouring more money into medical care.
Counterintuitively, there is evidence suggesting that Canadians’ health might improve if less were spent on hospitals, doctors and drugs and more invested in addressing the root causes of ill health.
Health Canada has long acknowledged that, genetics aside, health is determined by a range of social, economic and behavioural factors. Among those are: poverty, homelessness, childhood trauma, gender, ethnicity, education, and what kind of work we do.
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