Social Determinants of Health

Black people in Ontario face disproportionately poor outcomes across the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Early childhood development, income, employment, education, housing, racism are all key determinants. Disparities across several social determinants of health result in inequitable treatment and unequal outcomes in Justice, Education, and Child Welfare sectors, and poorer health outcomes. The position of the Canadian Medical Association is that the social determinants of health have the largest impact on individual and population health.  

Statistics on the social determinants of health:

  • Income: 24% of Black Ontarians qualify as “low income”, as compared to 14.4% of the general racialized Ontario population.
  • Second-generation Black Canadians earn 10 to 15 per cent less than second-generation White Canadians, even when results are adjusted to reflect educational levels.
  • Education: In the Toronto District School Board, 69% of Black students graduated in 2011, as compared to 87% of racialized students and 84% of White students.
  • Social Exclusion: Black Canadians make up 9.5% of the Canadian prison population while representing only 2.5% of the overall Canadian population.


Given the unique challenges faced by Black Ontarians across the social determinants of health, and the large impact of the determinants on our overall health, we believe that it is important for the public, private, and charitable sectors to work together to take action to directly address the outcomes based on the social determinants of health. Addressing the health outcomes of Black Ontarians ensures that all Ontarians have an equitable opportunity to thrive and contribute to the development of Canada.


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