Cowichan Valley West
Community Health Service Area
Health Profile (Version 1.0)
Factors that affect health
The following section describes some of the factors that influence the health and well-being of communities. It is important to note that, although these factors impact health in their own right, they are interrelated and work together to contribute towards the health of communities.
Income greatly impacts health by affecting living conditions (e.g., adequate housing and transportation options), access to healthy choices (e.g., healthy food options and recreational activities), and well-being (e.g., stress levels).
Those with the lowest levels of income tend to experience the poorest health and health seems to improve with increasing income. This means that all segments of the population experience the effect of income on health, not just those living in poverty.
Gross median household income
Census of population, Statistics Canada, 2016
People with higher levels of education tend to be healthier than those with less formal education. Education impacts job opportunities, working conditions, and income level. In addition, education equips us to better understand and make informed choices about the health options available.
Employment provides income and a sense of security for individuals. Underemployment or unemployment can lead to poorer physical and mental well-being due to reduced income, lack of employment benefits and elevated stress levels. Employment conditions such as workplace safety and hours of work can also impact health.
Census of population, Statistics Canada, 2016
Physical environment can promote healthy behaviours by increasing access to healthy food outlets, affordable housing, walking or biking paths, and smoke-free environments. How communities are planned and built can make healthy options, like active transportation, more available, affordable, and accessible for everyone.
By keeping health and physical activity accessibility in mind when planning policy and designing physical spaces, communities can help create healthier environments for citizens.
Physical environments can promote healthy behaviours and there is an increasing interest in the promotion of built environments that facilitate more active living in daily life. The Canadian Active Living Environments (CanALE) database is a geographically-based set of measures that represents the active livingness, or “walkability”, of communities. In the map shown below, “least” indicates that the dissemination area is least favourable to active living and “most” indicates that the area is most favourable to active living in the province-wide scores of ALE classes.
(Census of population, Statistics Canada, 2016)
The conditions in which people live, work and play can vary greatly. These variations can contribute to what is known as deprivation, resulting in certain populations facing health inequalities and marginalization.
The Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation (CIMD) is an area-based index of deprivation and marginalization that can provide a cross-sectional measure of social-wellbeing. The CIMD presents an understanding of inequalities based on four dimensions of deprivation including: situational vulnerability, economic dependency, ethno-cultural composition and residential instability (see text at the end of this section).
Each dimension is divided into score quintile rankings. In the map shown below, “least” indicates the dissemination area as least deprived for that dimension and “most” indicates the area as most deprived in the province-wide scores of deprivation.
Situational vulnerability refers to differences in socio-demographic conditions in factors such as housing, education and other characteristics. Indicators contributing to this dimension include: the proportion of population that identifies as Aboriginal, the proportion of population aged 25-64 without a high school diploma, the proportion of dwellings needing major repairs, the proportion of population that is low-income, and the proportion of single parent families.
Ethno-cultural composition refers to the make-up of immigrant populations within the community. Indicators contributing to this dimension include: the proportion of population who self-identify as a visible minority, the proportion of population that is foreign-born, the proportion of population who are recent immigrants, and the proportion of population who are linguistically isolated (have no knowledge of either official languages).
Economic dependency refers to the dependency on the workforce or on other sources of income. Indicators contributing to this dimension include: the proportion of population participating in labour force, the proportion of population aged 65 and older, the ratio of employment to population, and the dependency ratio, which is the population aged 0-14 and aged 65 and older divided by the population aged 15-64.
Residential instability refers to the tendency of neighbourhood inhabitants to change over time, while taking into consideration characteristics such as housing and family. Indicators contributing to this dimension include: the proportion of dwellings that are apartment buildings, the proportion of people living alone, the proportion of dwellings that are owned, and the proportion of population who moved within the last five years.