What Makes Us Sick?

Biology, genetics, health care and healthy living are important. They all impact our health and wellness.  But there are so many other factors that play a role in our health each and every day.  

They are the social determinants of health. 

These are the living conditions that surround us.  They control our health in ways that not even the best health care systems or healthy choices can.  They are bigger than our genetics and often affect a large group of people.  We need to work together as a community to recognize, address and solve them to build better health.

what makes us sick graphic

Some social determinants of health that affect Canadians include:

  • Level of income;
  • Employment, job security and working conditions;
  • Level of education;
  • Access to early childhood education;
  • Access to housing and food;
  • Social exclusion;
  • The level of family and community support we have; 
  • Access to health services;
  • Ethnicity, gender and Aboriginal status; and
  • Disability.
This is important because people in our community who are affected by social determinants often have more challenges getting the care and support they need. 

Collaboration and partnerships in and beyond health care are vital to solve these issues. That is why we are working with our health service providers, community leaders and community partners to build a health care system that works well for all residents and addresses the social challenges that impact our health as a whole. 

For more information see the reports and videos below or contact us at: waterloowellington@lhins.on.ca


Check our our Community Conversation videos to see Bruce Lauckner and Bryan Larkin discuss the social determinants. 

This conversation focuses on factors that influence our health such as poor early childhood education, improper housing, lower education levels, unemployment and social exclusion. 

community conversation video graphic

To view the rest of the Community Conversation series click here.

How working together is making a difference:

  • Health Links wrap supports around residents with multiple and complex health needs. The care team needs what is most important to the person. The primary care provider and others in the care team work together to help the person achieve their goals and support them in the community.  
  • Specialized Crisis Teams: addictions and mental health experts join police officers responding to emergency calls to provide support and referrals on the spot. This keeps people safe, out of the hospital and on the right side of the law.
  • Connectivity Tables bring together representatives from health and community support agencies as a team to create care strategies for people with complex health needs.  Cases are brought to Connectivity Tables meetings and health and social supports are quickly put in place. Bringing services to the patient means that people no longer have to try to navigate the health system to get help from each service separately.
  • Here 24/7 is the one point of access for 12 mental health and addictions services across Waterloo Wellington. Anyone in the community can call for help and an intake coordinator trained in crisis intervention and mental health and addictions assessments will match callers to the appropriate, available services or connect them with supports in the community.


How Income Affects Health In Ontario - HQO