PHIRN: Population Health Improvement Research Network

Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2011

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Youth and Young Adults —Life in Transition

David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Available online PDF at:

".....The report considers many health issues affecting this population such as physical and mental health, injury, sexual and reproductive health and substance use and abuse. By discussing these issues and how they are addressed, the report identifies priority areas for action to maintain healthy transitions of young Canadians into adulthood.

Public health is about preventing disease and optimizing health. The focus is on promoting and supporting the health of the public, rather than treating the illnesses of individuals. By helping to keep people healthy, the public health system can help to relieve some of the pressures on the hospital and acute health-care system.4-6

Public health includes:

  • food, water and air quality, including health inspection services;
  • promoting health-enhancing opportunities and behaviours (e.g. smoking cessation programs, healthy nutrition, prevention and treatment programs for drug and alcohol use);
  • basic sanitation (e.g. sewage treatment);
  • disease and injury prevention programs (e.g. vaccinations);
  • monitoring, screening, diagnosis and reporting on risks and risk factors (e.g. surveillance of disease to detect outbreaks and identify risk factors for communicable diseases, such as influenza, as they occur in humans); and
  • identifying and changing harmful community conditions and promoting safe communities
  • (e.g. impact on health due to the lack of recreational areas, safe housing, education and child care).5-8

Public health also includes factors – both inside and outside the health-care system – that affect or determine our health. These include income and socio-economic status, social support networks, education and literacy, early childhood development and healthy workplaces.9-14

The goal is to ensure everyone enjoys universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health, whether those conditions fall within the public health system or outside of it. ..."

Public health is defined as the organized efforts of society to keep people healthy and prevent injury, illness and premature death. It is the combination of programs, services and policies that protect and promote health

".....Although this report focuses on the health and well-being of youth aged 12 to 19 years and young adults aged 20 to 29 years, it is relevant to all Canadians. Everyone has a role to play and everyone benefits from the creation of healthy environments. Adolescence and young adulthood is generally a time of good health and well-being; however, it is also a time of significant biological, psychological, economic and social transition. It is also a period during which most individuals establish lifelong attitudes and behaviours, setting the stage for their future health and well-being. ...."


A Message from Canada's Chief Public Health Officer

Executive Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction

Why a report on the state of public health in Canada?

The goals of the report

What is public health?

Who is this report about?

What does the report cover?


Chapter 2: Setting the Stage for Healthy Life Transitions – A Public Health History

Public health and the lifecourse approach

Lifecourse transitions of youth and young adults

Canada's history of promoting healthy life transitions

Moving forward


Chapter 3: The Health and Well-being of Canadian Youth and Young Adults

Social demographics of the youth and young adult population


Education, employment and income

The current health of Canada's youth and young adults

Mental health and mental illness

Physical health

Health risk behaviours


Chapter 4: Creating Healthy Transitions

The approach

Creating supportive environments for transition

Developing resilience

Addressing risky behaviours

Enhancing positive mental health and protective factors

Approaches to preventing suicide

Preventing unintentional injury

Bullying and aggression

Sexual and reproductive health issues

Healthy weights and healthy living

Substance use and abuse


Chapter 5: Moving Forward – Priority Areas for Action

Priority areas for action

Improving and making better use of population and program evidence

Increasing education and awareness

Building and maintaining supportive and caring environments

Approaching problems from all sides with co-ordinated, multi-pronged, inter-sectoral action

Making progress

Appendix A: List of Acronyms

Appendix B: Indicators of Our Health and Factors Influencing Our Health

Appendix C: Definitions and Data Sources for Indicators



Source: PAHO/WHO

Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 October 2011 09:25 )  

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