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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2017

Addressing health inequities in Ontario, Canada: what solutions do the public support?

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2017
Maritt Kirst, Ketan Shankardass, Sonica Singhal, Aisha Lofters, Carles Muntaner, Carlos Quiñonez



As public opinion is an important part of the health equity policy agenda, it is important to assess public opinion around potential policy interventions to address health inequities. We report on public opinion in Ontario about health equity interventions that address the social determinants of health. We also examine Ontarians’ support and predictors for targeted health equity interventions versus universal interventions.


We surveyed 2,006 adult Ontarians through a telephone survey using random digit dialing. Descriptive statistics assessed Ontarians’ support for various health equity solutions, and a multinomial logistic regression model was built to examine predictors of this support across specific targeted and broader health equity interventions focused on nutrition, welfare, and housing.


There appears to be mixed opinions among Ontarians regarding the importance of addressing health inequities and related solutions. Nevertheless, Ontarians were willing to support a wide range of interventions to address health inequities. The three most supported interventions were more subsidized nutritious food for children (89%), encouraging more volunteers in the community (89%), and more healthcare treatment programs (85%). Respondents who attributed health inequities to the plight of the poor were generally more likely to support both targeted and broader health equity interventions, than neither type. Political affiliation was a strong predictor of support with expected patterns, with left-leaning voters more likely to support both targeted and broader health equity interventions, and right-leaning voters less likely to support both types of interventions.


Findings indicate that the Ontario public is more supportive of targeted health equity interventions, but that attributions of inequities and political affiliation are important predictors of support. The Ontario public may be accepting of messaging around health inequities and the social determinants of health depending on how the message is framed (e.g., plight of the poor vs. privilege of the rich). These findings may be instructive for advocates looking to raise awareness of health inequities.
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