Healthy Corporate Citizen Award

Corporations are an ever increasing part of our lives not just through the products and services they produce and provide, market and sell but through their involvement in shaping society through their increasing dominance in the social, political and economic life of our communities. Corporations affect our health in both direct and indirect ways.

In order to raise awareness of the role of the corporate sector in public health and in the potential for corporations to provide leadership in improving health, PHABC has created a Healthy Corporate Citizen Award.

The award is intended for a corporation, financial institution or producer/worker cooperative in British Columbia that demonstrates a broad and comprehensive commitment to promoting health through a range of policies, products/services and practices. The award is not intended to reward a specific policy, product/service or practice but rather is intended to recognize a broad commitment to addressing the determinants of health (e.g., housing and food security) that can be influenced by corporate activities (e.g., paying a living wage) and to avoid contributing to dangerous or unhealthy policies, products/services and practices (e.g., marketing unhealthy food).

PHABC members or organizations that wish to self-nominate must submit a general statement of nomination of no more than 500 words. In addition, the nominator must comment on the performance of the nominated organization in regard to specific criteria.

If you are interested in making a nomination pleasecontact PHABC ( to get more information on the criteria for the award.

Advocacy is Not Always Popular

By Dr. Trevor Hancock

Public health is political – always was, always will be. Ideologically, we believe in the collectivity, in using the power of the state to manage, control, tax, enforce and even punish (we do all these, for example, with respect to tobacco control, perhaps the most lauded public health success in the past 50 years).

Whether we are trying to control tobacco and alcohol use, unsafe food system practices, unhealthy working conditions, environmental pollution or junk food, we are going to irritate powerful ideological and thus political opponents; both those who believe in individual freedoms more than in collective responsibility and those who believe in unfettered free enterprise.

Nothing new in that: In the 15th century, Carlo Cipolla tells us in his 1976 book Public Health and the Medical Profession in the Renaissance, that the Health Officers for the Boards of Health complained about the hostility of the merchants, who in turn complained that their economic well-being was disrupted by the regulation of trade and commerce by the Boards, who were trying to enforce quarantines to control the spread of infectious diseases such as the plague.

It is not our role to try to be ‘neutral’ in these situations; we are not neutral, we are very clearly pro-health, which means we are very clearly opposed to health-damaging activity, no matter the source. If we are not biased, we are not doing our jobs. If we do not speak out in oppostion to policies, programs and practices harmful to health, be they from the public, private, non-profit, faith, academic or any other sector, we are not doing our jobs.

You only need to look at the recent policy positions of the Canadian Public Health Association to see such opposition in practice.

Opposed to minimum sentences

In favour of firearms control, opposed to closing the gun registry

Today twenty-eight medical, nursing, allied health and suicide prevention organizations and thirty-three professionals in the same fields, released an open letter to Members of Parliament in order to underscore the importance of the gun registry in helping to prevent domestic murders, accidents and suicides.

“For almost twenty years the Canadian Public Health Association has advocated for stronger gun laws including the licensing of all gun owners and registration of firearms because of their potential to prevent death and injury. We are seeing encouraging results from Canada’s progressive gun laws. Firearm related deaths in Canada have reached a 30 year low and of particular note is the dramatic decline in the misuse of rifles and shotguns, the target of the 1977, the 1991 and the 1995 legislation.”

Opposed to continuing support for the mining and expert of asbestos

CPHA calls once again on the Government of Canada to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention, and as well urge the GOC to take actions to:

  1. Introduce legislation to ban the mining, use, and export of asbestos
  2. Cease funding the Chrysotile Institute

In favour of supervised injection facilities

CPHA commends and supports the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling granting Insite, Canada’s first supervised injection facility (SIF), a constitutional exemption from the application of sub-section 4(1) and 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Clearly, the CPHA policy positions, based on public health values and evidence, are in opposition to declared federal policy and practice.  The Harper government, it has recently been revealed, has an enemies list – their word, not mine. Not an opponents list – an enemies list.

Well, if standing up for good public health policy and practice makes us not just opponents of the government, but enemies, so be it. We should all be on the list; I certainly hope I am on it, and will be offended if I am not! (see my letter to the Globe and Mail, July 18th)

Trevor Hancock crop_0

So are you on the enemies list? If not, why not?

Dr. Trevor Hancock is a Professor and Senior Scholar, School of Pulic Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria

Great Ideas Have Long Lives

By Ted Bruce

The election is over and, as they say, the hard work starts. The spin doctors, backroom strategists, pundits and pollsters take a break and the world of policy development and advocacy carry on. Policies that are essential to improve the health of the population require a long and sustained effort. Public health policy work is arduous and although there are quick wins for the most part the complex web of causality requires multiple policy and program interventions implemented over a long time. And often efforts must push against countervailing forces that at times seem insurmountable.

But they are not insurmountable and the ideas behind population health are not easily dismissed. Social justice, fairness, health and wellbeing are foundational to the notion of reducing health inequities and preventing disease before it sets its roots.

The election campaign proved an opportunity to raise awareness of health inequities and the importance of poverty reduction and disease prevention. In looking at the election campaigns, political party platforms and the media and political dialogue, there was certainly considerable interest in the idea of poverty reduction. Although there was not agreement on the policies needed to reduce it, it is safe to say that it will likely maintain momentum as a post election topic. The need for a new prevention paradigm for health care did not get much discussion. Clearly, public health has a way to go to captivate the political dialogue on that issue.

This is not new. These issues have been at the forefront of public health for a long time and will continue so. Why? In part because the alleviation of human suffering and the promotion of health and well being are central to public health and the root causes of health inequities must be a central focus if public health is to be successful in its mission to improve health for all citizens – not just some citizens. And the policy agenda is complex. The solutions require a huge paradigm shift in a policy environment that has diminished the valuing of public services and has emphasized individualism over collective action. And they require considerable vision and commitment on the part of government and non-governmental leaders. Election time is a window to push for that vision. Post election is a time to continue to educate the public, to bring the evidence forward to the decision-makers and to do the hard work of policy change.

PHABC’s website for the election has some great resources for the continuing dialogue about health inequities, poverty reduction and disease prevention. PHABC has had considerable feedback that an on-line toolkit and the social media campaign were an effective contributor to the dialogue on public health. As co-chair of the PHABC Policy Advocacy Committee, I know this strategy will continue.

Change does not come easy. There are risks associated with change but great ideas deserve risks.  Health and well being for all citizens, social justice and public health – these are great ideas. Elections come and go. Great ideas have long lives.

– Ted Bruce is the past-president of the PHABC

Your chance to be heard – all candidate’s debate April 29, 2013


An all-parties debate will air widely on TV, radio and digital platforms on Monday April 29, 2013 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.

The ninety minute televised debate will feature four B.C. political party leaders:

  • BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark
  • BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix
  • BC Conservative Leader John Cummins
  • BC Green Party Leader Jane Sterk.

The format of the event will have opportunities for questions about voter concerns.

This is your chance to raise poverty reduction and preventative health service funding as important issues this election. This can be summed up in two key questions.

If you win this election:

  • Would your party develop a provincial poverty reduction plan for British Columbia?
  • Would your party plan to increase public health funding?

Check out our candidate’s debate policy backgrounder document.

To be heard: contact local media with your questions
Local media channels are accepting questions in advance of the debate. Send your debate questions to local media:

Follow the debate
The debate will be broadcast live April 29, 2013 from 6:30pm – 8:00pm on CBC TV and Radio, CTV British Columbia, Global BC, City, OMNI BC, News1130 Radio and CKNW Radio.

You can also follow the conversation on twitter via hashtag #bcdebate2013.

In-depth info about our two policy aims this election.

Questions? or @PHA_BC on twitter.

Getting involved is easy


Join our movement to let BC’s MLA candidates know that disease prevention and poverty reduction are election issues that matter.

Getting started is easy:

  • Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @PHA_BC. You’ll find us sharing highlights from our Health Leaders Blog, and election-oriented events, tools and updates from the PHABC Election Toolkit, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the BC Healthy Living Alliance.
  • Share or retweet our stories about why disease prevention and poverty reduction matter.
  • Share your story with us: What’s your reason for voting on May 14th. Contact us at for more information.
  • Write a letter to your candidates. Let them know you will be voting based on their commitment to disease prevention and poverty reduction.
  • Host a letter writing evening! Gather some people and follow our easy steps.
  • Attend election events. Question your candidates on how their party plans to improve disease prevention efforts and reduce poverty.
  • Don’t forget to VOTE!

Shannon’s reason: social inequities harm us all

Shannon Turner and son CharlesShannon Turner with her son Charles.

My foster children were victims of violence. 

Today, Aboriginal children represent the majority of children in foster care. Children should be able to grow in safe and nurturing homes. We have, in partnership with Charles mother and brothers, become a supportive family unit and our grandchildren are growing up in safe and loving families.

My decision to advocate for violence prevention is a direct result of the experiences of my children and my work in public health.

Social inequities harm us all.  We need to build safe and supportive communities where families and children can thrive, fulfilling their potential and giving them the best chance possible for a healthy future.

Shannon Turner, BA, BSc, MSc, Doctoral Fellow; National Co-Chair,  Prevention of Violence Canada.

What’s your reason?
Why are you fighting for better public health policies this election?
We want to hear from you:

Paola’s reason: shifting the conversation to mental well-being

Paola photo_2L-R: Paola Ardiles, Rodrigo Ardiles, Sergio Ardiles, Patricia Gamboa. Photo by Juan Gallardo – 1975, Santiago,Chile.

When I was five years old, I was taken away from everything familiar to me: my home, my roots, my language and my culture. I immigrated to Canada from Chile, as a young girl with my family.

Both my parents experienced an incredible amount of stress with their arrival in this new country. They had to deal with language barriers, lack of employment opportunities, problems with foreign educational credentials, unfamiliarity with the health and education systems, lack of social support and more.

They both developed mental health issues and, until this day, live in recovery. Yet they have also both led fulfilled, happy and productive lives.

Like many others, I have also lived with mental health and substance use issues as a spouse, a mother, a friend, a colleague and as a young woman who had postpartum depression 19 years ago. In my case, focusing on my spiritual growth and yoga practice has been key in my personal journey toward mental well-being.

Throughout the last decade of my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with a wide range of people: community members, policy makers, researchers and advocates.

All of them have taught me that we must deal with the broader social determinants of mental health — that is, the social conditions that are, ultimately, at the root cause of our mental health issues. These include social inclusion, access to economic resources, and freedom from stigma, violence and discrimination.

The time for us, as a society, to act is now.

Paola Ardiles, MHSc; Mental Health Promotion Specialist in Policy, Research and Population Health Practice.

Excerpt adapted from an article in the Wellness edition of Here to Help’s Visions Journal, with permission from Paola Ardiles Gamboda. Read the full article.

What’s your reason?
Why are you fighting for better public health policies this election?
We want to hear from you:

What’s your reason?

This year, we are encouraging PHABC members and public health advocates in the community to write their MLA candidates.

We want to motivate candidates to take action – by letting them know that disease prevention funding and poverty reduction are key issues they will be voting on in this election.

What’s your reason?
What motivates you to raise your voice to fight for healthier public policies? How would they impact you and your loved ones? We want to hear your story.

Your story can motivate others to make a difference.

  • What are your personal reasons for advocating for better public health policy? A family member? Your work?
  • Did you write your MLA candidates (either on your own, or using the PHABC toolkit template)? Let us know!

We want to hear from you:

Tools to help you advocate for healthier public policy

PHABC has developed tools you can use to ask MLA candidates in your riding to clarify their position on two key public health issues:

  • The need for a provincial poverty reduction plan. Because poverty is bad for your health.
  • The need to double funding for disease prevention + health promotion services from 3% to 6% of the provincial health budget.

Write your MLA candidates
We’ve developed a letter template you can customize and send to political leaders and MLA candidates in your riding. Demand they make a commitment to healthier public policy.

MLA candidate database
Connect with the MLA candidates in your riding. Our database provides their contacts right at your fingertips.  Take action today.

Create a healthier future for British Columbia

Welcome to the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC) Health Voices Election Toolkit website.

The Toolkit is a way for PHABC members and anyone concerned about the future of health care in British Columbia to advocate for long term improvements to our health care system, and create a healthier future.

Elections are a critical opportunity every 4 years to generate commitment to policy change.

By asking political parties and candidates to clarify their positions on important issues and helping them better understand the issues of significance to public health, we can and will make a difference.

Two things can transform the health of all British Columbians.

The health of British Columbians hangs in the balance. Raise your voice and make your concerns heard.

The toolkit is for you. Explore it. Learn more about the issues, spread the word and take action to create a healthier society.