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Health is an extremely important aspect of life and in order for an individual to reach their full potential, it is crucial that every aspect of their health–whether it’d be physical, emotional, social, or spiritual–is at its best. There are many ways that one can improve and maintain their own health. However, there are also many aspects that can be detrimental to an individual’s health and well being. This includes many inequities that can affect all Canadians(sdoh). Mikkonen and Raphael (2013) states that when “the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health published its final report…that demonstrated how the conditions in which people live and work directly affect the quality of their health, we nodded in agreement”(pp. 5). People’s living conditions directly affect their health. This is especially prominent with people who live in poverty, including the homeless. Meili and Richter’s article, Canada’s Housing Crisis Is A Public Health Emergency, offers a thorough analysis of the severity of homelessness. This paper will discuss the important effects that certain social determinants of health have on homelessness in Canada. This includes income, housing, and social exclusion.
Firstly, income is defined as the most prominent social determinant of health. This is because income affects the quality of other social determinants of health and also determines one’s living conditions and quality of life(sdoh). People who have lower income are more prone to health complications including income related stress . In America, the “poorest ten percent of Americans are more likely to die nearly a decade earlier than the richest ten percent according to research from the Brookings Institute”(Conner, 2015). Income directly impacts people in the given media story. The media story focuses on Canada’s housing crisis and the effects of homelessness on Canadian’s health. Over seven hundred and fifty thousand Canadians live in extreme housing need and spend over half of their income on housing (Meili & Richter, 2016). Individuals who are homeless have extremely little to no income; let alone a sufficient amount of money to support themselves This establishes an extreme barrier for homeless individuals to have the ability to reach good health. With no job opportunities and ways for people to receive stable income, people are more susceptible to health disparities like poor mental health and poorly managed long term conditions due to the environmental conditions(Keita, 2014). Many Canadians struggle to find jobs with reasonable wages. As a person who is homeless, finding job opportunities becomes an even more difficult challenge. This is because homeless people have numerous barriers to finding a sustainable job due to there irregular addresses, unemployment, unreliable phones, hygiene, lack of education, and more(Shay, 2017). As a nurse whose profession is to provide care for individuals, families, and communities, nurses must advocate for people who are homeless to receive the care and help that they need. As a nurse, we must be the voice to the homeless; who are living in poverty and in a state where they lack participation and power as a result of their lack of resources. The Ontario Basic Income Pilot is an extremely beneficial project for people who need guidance and opportunities to get into the workforce. Ontario decided to give four thousand people basic income for three years in order to help people with low income better meet their basic needs and improve their employment status and overall health. Recently, the Progressive Conservative government stated that Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot will come to an end on March 31, 2019(The Canadian Press, 2018). Nurses must ensure to advocate and mediate for a change in this decision. An end to this project will not only be detrimental to the four thousand participants, but will also provide no hope to almost two million Ontarians who are living in poverty as of today. Nurses have the responsibility to mediate between differing verdicts in order to pursuit health(ottawa charter). Nurses must also advocate in order to convince the government to reverse its decision to cancel on an opportunity to collect data on an extremely important policy issue. It is crucial for nurses to focus on developing options for implementing successful programs unlike the basic income pilot project. It is important to reflect on why the project is coming to an end and what people must work on improving in order to apply more reliable projects and sources for those in need (Walsh 2018).
Additionally, housing directly influences people’s overall health and their development. Housing is extremely necessary for one to live a healthy life; which is unfortunately not available for all Canadians. In Canada, “over 35,000 Canadians are homeless on a given night with more than 235, 000 Canadians experiencing homelessness at some point every year”(article). The environment and conditions in which an individual resides in has an influential impact on their health and wellbeing.

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