Health Equity

Health inequities are those differences in health between groups that are unfair and unjust. They happen because of the social position of the individual, be it income, race, language, education and/or immigration status. Health Equity is about pursuing the elimination of such health inequities. The alPHa/OPHA Health Equity Workgroup will advocate for and support the development of, a public health system that includes health equity as both approach and outcome.
The alPHa/OPHA Health Equity Workgroup will identify, recommend and implement strategies that address, diminish and mitigate social inequities in health in Ontario populations.

The Mission/Mandate

  • To promote the inclusion of activities that address the social and economic determinants of health within the mandate of public health units in Ontario.
  • To advocate for policies at all levels that work to reduce social inequities in health and to monitor advocacy efforts and policy changes at the municipal, provincial and national level that impact inequities in health.
  • To support knowledge exchange related to health equity principles, competencies and promising practices in public health, health promotion, and disease and injury prevention and to facilitate sharing of tools and resources to health units, the Provincial government and relevant agencies to assist in program and policy development that aim to reduce health inequities.


  • To develop a workplan consistent with the purpose and goals of the workgroup, and the OPHA and alPHa strategic plans.
  • To monitor activity and identify and advise on current and emerging issues relevant to health inequities and social and economic determinants of health at the local, provincial and federal levels.
  • To advocate for increased accountability for public health for addressing health inequities and social determinants of health.
  • To identify opportunities for collaboration with other organizations on health equity, social justice and determinants of health.
  • To identify or develop tools and resources for health units, the Provincial government and relevant agencies to assist in program and policy development that aims to reduce health inequities.
  • To support organizational/staff capacity to reduce social inequities in health.
  • To communicate activities as appropriate to alPHa and OPHA members, Public Health Ontario, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care, and Children and Youth Services, as well as other stakeholders and partners.
  • Accountability to alPHa and OPHA.

Current Activities

The HEWG’s priorities are outlined in it’s 2015-2016 Workplan.


The workgroup consists of members of either OPHA or alPHa.
For specific initiatives, the group will work in partnership with other groups outside of public health.If you are interested in joining this workgroup, please send an e-mail to


  • Meetings will be held at least every two months by teleconference.

Recent Accomplishments

  1. In 2015, both OPHA and alPHa passed the resolution Basic Income Guarantee
  2. In 2014, both OPHA and alPHa passed the resolution Applying a Health Equity Lens
  3. The HEWG completed its Health Equity Indicators report  in October 2013. This report provides readers with possible indicators that could be used, at the local public health level in Ontario, to document and measure board of health activity and action on health equity. It is the group’s hope that these indicators will provide a basis for a health units to measure progress towards maximizing engagement to reduce health inequities.
  4. Also in October, the Workgroup made a formal submission to help inform the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy  through an on-line survey and letter.
  5. The Workgroup provided feedback on the consultation paper on Ontario’s minimum wage in October 2013. The group provided suggestions for the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel to consider as it determines future adjustments to the minimum wage. Read their submission here.
  6. In April 2013, the Health Equity Workgroup issued provided feedback on the 2012 report from the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. Their letter can be found here.