Health… you’ll be surprised.
So let’s start a conversation about health and not talk about health care at
all. There are pressures on our health care
system… doctor shortages, ER wait times… But solving these problems won’t make us healthy. We all know about our health problems:
obesity, cancer, injuries, diabetes, heart disease, asthma. The statistics paint the
picture. Too many of us are unhealthy and we all know what causes these problems:
diet, smoking, stress, and inactivity. But do we really know the causes? It’s
just not that simple. We know that poverty is bad for your health.
People who have higher incomes have more opportunities to be healthy. The more
money people have the healthier they are. Everyone is affected. Health improves at every rung of the
social and income ladder. Why is this? There are many forces that impact health.
At a personal level were affected by many things including the food we eat,
our activity levels, our coping skills, housing, our family situation, and access
to health care. Our health is affected by the lifestyle decisions we make, the
housing and food we can afford, and the social stressors that we face. These
things are in turn influenced by our level of education, our jobs, the amount
of money we earn, and our sense of community. And if we step back even more we can see that our choices are impacted by our culture, our economy, and public
policies. Okay… let’s meet Nadia. Nadia is in the E.R. again. Why? Her asthma is worse
because she’s smoking again. Why? Her new apartment is mouldy and she’s stressed
out. Why? She works for a mining supply company and because of the recession –
they had to make cutbacks. Why can’t she get another job and move out? She doesn’t
have the education to do anything else… What does Nadia need for her health? She
needs affordable healthy food and housing, the ability to make healthy
decisions, and effective coping skills. She needs to know about healthy
lifestyles and have an education so she can get a good job. She needs money for
housing, food, and clothing and she needs work benefits and a safe community with
friends and family. She also needs a healthy diverse economy to create job
opportunities. Hey! who shifted the focus? Now we’re talking
about way more than hospitals, smoking, exercise, and diet. We’re talking about
our schools, our jobs, our friends, and family, our employees, our government. The
place we call home, our community. Health care alone cannot fix our health
problems. We are truly at a fork in the road. If we continue where we’re headed we’ll need more resources to treat illness and
injury. Health care costs will continue to rise. It’s a dead-end road. It’s not
sustainable. It’s a very expensive band-aid. Or we can take a different
direction towards community prosperity, well-being, productivity, and health. We
can work towards affordable housing, diversity, walkable communities, local
food, community engagement, and early childhood development. We can invest in
our community. We are northerners known for our innovation and resourcefulness,
known for coming up with creative solutions to complex problems. The
evidence is all around us, in the news and in our communities. We are working
together to build healthier communities. We can rewrite Nadia’s story. Nadia feels great she has a municipal
council committed to diversifying the economy. Property standards that promote
clean, safe housing. A college that offers low-cost evening upgrade classes. Free
support to quit smoking at her local public health unit. Good friends she can
turn to and excellent health care providers when she needs them. So what
can we do? We can improve our community’s health because we are nurses, teachers,
builders, dads, business women, students, school trustees, municipal councillors.
Our community. So let’s start a conversation about health and not talk
about health care at all, and then, let’s get moving. you