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Apply health lens to all policies: CMA

All federal government policies should be evaluated to ensure they increase opportunities to improve the health of Canadians.

Acknowledging the fact that many of the causes of poor health are outside of the health care system, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) supports providing a health lens to policy-making, through the adoption of the Health in All Policies policy statement at the May CMA Board of Directors meeting.

Research suggests that 50% of population health is determined by our social and economic environment (the social determinants of health). The policy environment in which people live therefore has a large influence on their health and the health-promoting or harmful choices they make.

The CMA believes implementing ‘Health in All Policies’ will not only help to reduce costs to the health system but also increase economic growth, because healthier people contribute to overall economic productivity through fewer lost workdays.

The policy recommends four main courses of action:

  • have the federal government recognize the relationship of the social determinants of health on the demands of the health care system and implement a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach for all cabinet decision-making
  • have the federal government provide the necessary environment to allow for the application of a “Health in All Policies’ approach in new policy development
  • ensure that the federal minister of health work with cabinet to select appropriate ministries to begin implementation of the ‘Health in All Policies’ approach
  • ask that physicians and other health care providers use their knowledge and expertise to support governments in the development of evidence-based policy which promotes population health

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