Most Canadians believe that their experiences of health and illness are shaped by genetics, medical care and lifestyle choices. Governments, the media and disease associations reinforce this perception by pointing to medical research and a healthy lifestyle as the keys to health. About Canada: Health and Illness tells a different story.
In this new, updated edition, Dennis Raphael shows that living and working conditions, income, employment and quality of education, as well as access to food, housing and social services — the social determinants of health — are what dictate the health of Canadians. And these social determinants are shaped by the public-policy decisions of Canadian governments. Whether you stay healthy or become ill has more to do with policies, laws and regulations than genetics or lifestyle. Over the past thirty years, policymakers — operating under the influence of neoliberalism — have threatened health by allowing the growth of corporate power, which has led to growing inequality in these social determinants of health.
This book is a wake-up call to Canadians. Public pressure needs to be put on elected representatives to create policies that are in the interest of the majority of Canadians, not just the wealthy.