Elections: Health matters
Governments play an important role in shaping policies that impact all aspects of our lives, including our health. When you vote, you register your opinion on how you think the government should operate. It’s your right.
In Ontario, only about half of eligible voters turnout to vote.
Do you have family, friends, or neighbours who may need help voting? Helping those around you to register and vote encourages community participation on issues that matter.
Federal, provincial, and municipal elections
For information on upcoming and past elections, candidates, political parties, electoral districts, and voter registration visit the following websites:
- Provincial (Elections Ontario)
- Federal (Elections Canada)
- Municipal (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing)
Priority issues from 2018 provincial and municipal elections
Municipal Election: Health Matters (PDF, 360 KB)
Voters consistently rate health care as a top concern. Although access to health care and pressures on the health care system are often profiled in election discussions, these are reactive measures. Increasing access to health care will not make our community healthier. Our health is impacted by other factors such as income, social status and supports, education, and literacy. Implementing preventative measures that address these factors will reduce the strain on our health care system by keeping us out of hospitals in the first place. Health is more than health care. Preventative measures are proven to be less costly than reactive measures.
No one should be at risk of poor health because of their social and economic situations.
During the 2018 provincial and municipal elections, Public Health Sudbury & Districts highlighted several key public health issues for candidates and voters to consider. The following priorities would bring about sweeping changes in health outcomes, preventing illness and mortality for millions of people. Although adapted specifically for the 2018 provincial election in Ontario, these priorities are important to consider at all levels of government.
- Income Security
- Dental Care for Lower-Income Adults
- Mental Health
- Built Environments
- Ontario has one of the highest prescription rates in Canada for opioids, a class of drugs which includes fentanyl, morphine, and OxyContin. Crime and suffering occurs when these medications are misused and sold on the street.
- Drug misuse has serious impacts on our communities. There were 1053 opioid-related deaths in Ontario from January to October 2017, a 52% increase over the previous year. Further, there were 7658 emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses, a 72% increase over the previous year.
- Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among Ontarians and one of the leading causes of death, disease, and disability in Ontario. Last year, there were more alcohol related hospital admissions in Canada than for heart attacks.
- Broad social implications of harmful alcohol use include injuries, violence, motor vehicles collisions, family disruption, unemployment, and workplace accidents.
- Food insecurity—not having enough money to buy food—affects one in eight households in Ontario. When income is too low, people do not have enough money for rent, bills, and food. One in six children in Ontario lives in households that are food insecure.
- Social assistance rates are not enough – 64% of Ontario households that rely on social assistance do not have enough money for food.
- Incomes are not enough for many working people. Almost 60% of households in Ontario that are food insecure obtain their income from employment, yet they still have difficulty having enough money for food.
- Lacking sufficient money for food takes a serious toll on people’s health. Adults in food insecure households are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety; their children are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and teenagers are at greater risk of depression, social anxiety, and suicide. Being food insecure is strongly associated with being a higher user of healthcare.
- Smoking is responsible for lung and heart diseases and cancers, costing billions in Ontario in direct healthcare costs.ii This expense is borne by all tax payers, whether they smoke or not. There is growing support in Canada for an endgame – a strategy to create a future that is free from commercial tobacco.
- The modernized Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy was released in 2018 with recommendations aimed at reducing the health burden of tobacco and vapour products in Ontario.
- Recommendations of the strategy are intended to achieve a drastic reduction in tobacco use by 2035 and reduce the number of smoking related deaths by 5000 each year, producing benefits to health and reduce healthcare costs.ii
Support municipal leaders’ use of local lawmaking authority to restrict tobacco and reduce exposure in areas not covered by provincial legislation.
Support the implementation of the modernized Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, announced May 2018, to achieve the lowest smoking rates in Canada and support the end game goal by 2035.
- Cannabis in certain forms is expected to be legalized in Ontario on October 17, 2018. Individuals aged 19 years and older will have the freedom to buy and use cannabis.
- The brain is still developing until the mid-20’s. Frequent cannabis use is related to deficits in learning, which impacts educational outcomes, and mental health.iii Cannabis has different effects on the developing brain than alcohol and should have a different legal age.
Dental Care for Lower-Income Adults
- One-third of Ontario workers do not have employee health benefits. Many adults cannot afford to see a hygienist or dentist. People who don’t have regular dental cleanings, fillings, and extractions can end up in the emergency department. This was the case for approximately 60,000 patients in Ontario in 2014, with a cost of $30 million to the health care system.iv
- Ontario already has programs that extend dental care to children in lower-income families, but many adults still can’t afford dental care.
Support fluoridation of municipal water supplies.
- The mental health and well-being of Ontarians is heavily influenced by the social, economic, and physical environments where people live, learn, work, and play.
- The impact of mental health, mental illness, and addictions in Ontario on life expectancy, quality of life, and health care utilization is more than 1.5 times that of all cancers and more than 7 times that of all infectious diseases.
- Promoting the mental health and well-being of Ontarians requires a collaborative approach, involving stakeholders across various sectors.
- A built environment is designed to meet the daily needs of all people.
- The layout and features of our environment can predict our behaviours and our exposure to health hazards.vi The design and feature of our built environment can help or hinder us in making healthy choices like getting exercise, using public transit, relaxing outside, and finding healthy foods to buy.
- The built environment holds tremendous potential for addressing many current public health issues such as obesity, community safety, social inequities, mental health, and exposure to environmental hazards.
ii Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy New Chapter 2018, http://health.gov.on.ca/en/common/ministry/publications/reports/SmokeFreeOntario/SFO_The_Next_Chapter.pdf
iii Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Evidence Brief: Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. 2017. http://www.camh.ca/en/research/news_and_publications/reports_and_books/Documents/LRCUGKT.Professional.15June2017.pdf
This item was last modified on July 18, 2019