Addressing Poverty AS a Determinant of Health in Calgary

In a country whose citizens enjoy a quality of life that ranks among the highest in the world, there are many Canadians that struggle to maintain both basic necessities of living and personal health. Over the past few years, understanding of the magnitude and nature of the problems caused by health inequalities and the health of the poor has increased due to a recent explosion of interest in the topic (Kaplan & Lynch, 1997; Gwatkin, 2000). "As the third millennium begins, there is an incipient renewal of concern for poverty and equity in health." (Gwatkin, 2000, p.5). Last year the National Council of Welfare (2001) argued that in Canada there has been a lack of success in combating poverty in the past 20 years, and that a new nation-wide approach is required. Governments need to recognize the health impacts of economic and social policies. This recognition challenges the values and principles on which government and economic policies are built and the understanding of how progress is made (Wilkinson & Marmot, 1998). In 2001 a group of public and voluntary sector organizations in Calgary began to address these issues more directly through collaboration. The goal of the Advisory Committee on Poverty and Health is to positively impact the quality of life of economically disadvantaged Calgarians through building the capacity for public and voluntary organizations to address poverty as a determinant of health. The committee’s initial work has focused on a project to intended to increase awareness of the linkages between poverty and health, and develop a collaborative action plan to better address these concomitant issues. [abstract]

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