Health Equity

HEALTH FOR ALL: Building Winnipeg's Health Equity Action Plan

Health equity has increasingly become a topic of dialogue across the world. High profile international, national and local reports are recognizing that improved health and quality of life cannot be achieved through more health care or economic growth alone. 

The WRHA has created a report on Health Equity specific to the Winnipeg Health Region. However, it is not an answer book or a prescription. Rather, this report lays a foundation upon which we can collectively build Winnipeg’s health equity action plan. This report is intended to facilitate collaborative conversations so that together, we can move towards achieving greater health equity in Winnipeg. We need to set Health for All “stretch goals” and boldly reach towards them. This conversation needs many voices. Please join in.

Complete Health for All Document, click here

Key Document Components


– By Louis Sorin Community Area Director, Point Douglas

Equity work calls us to see our world with different eyes. This enables us to appreciate the truth that is found within our lived experience. An Elder shared the following wisdom about the search for truth and the courage needed to take action:

There are two very different ways to understand truth. From a Western, Euro-centric perspective, truth is like a single “pearl of wisdom” to which all stories and perspectives are linked. This fundamental or essential truth will guide our decision making and judgment of the situation. In science-based medicine, we use evidence as our pearl to help us quantify truth and reduce complex problems into solutions. There is much evidence about the need for health equity action.

In Indigenous world views, truth is like a crystal. In every situation, there are multiple perspectives and experiences, each carrying a piece of the truth. Each is valid, equal, and interconnected. All facets of the crystal are important and it is the responsibility of the searcher to shift their stance in order to validate and incorporate an alternative perspective. The work is not to look for truth, but rather, to have the courage to engage in a learning journey that will transform our relationships and create new opportunities. It is within this space that equity work can thrive.

Our goal is to bring together the best elements of different perspectives and to harness the tools that have emerged from these traditions. Together, seeing with both eyes1, we can build a more equitable Winnipeg.

1. “Seeing with both eyes” alludes to the concept of “Two-Eyed Seeing” which is the Guiding Principle brought into the Integrative Science co-learning journey by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall, Fall 2004.

Why this Report

A synopsis of why this report was created, a Vision of the WRHA for achieiving  "Health For All" and some ideas and definitions on what health equity, and inequity is.

A Look at Health Equity in Winnipeg

Providing a picture of the health gaps in areas of:

  • Death and length of life
  • Illness, injury and wellness
  • Health risks and behaviours
  • Early beginnings and education
  • Employment

A Framework for Understanding and Addressing Health Equity

Towards Health Equity Action

Thirty-two health-equity-focused reports - some local in scope, others nationally or internationally focused -up to March 2012 were reviewed. All the recommendations from those reports were extracted and then broken down into their essential ideas and reconstituted into recommendation themes. The following are the themed considerations for action offered up to serve as a starting place for conversations among key stakeholders in Winnipeg.

  1. Health Services
  2. Economy
  3. Income
  4. Work
  5. Childhood
  6. Education
  7. Environment
  8. Community
  9. Housing
  10. Food
  11. Transportation
  12. Behaviour
  13. Core Components for Equity Action Engagement


“Health for All,” closing the health equity gap in Winnipeg, is a bold stretch goal, but one we must reach. Creating conditions for the highest attainable health is not optional: it is a basic human right. And it is possible through the accumulation of small but sustained efforts by many people acting in diverse sectors. It is unlikely to happen to the required scale spontaneously without deliberate planning, and a concerted, collaborative effort to turn the tide. Hope is essential, but hope alone is not enough. It will take bold, innovative, pragmatic action as we mobilize efforts across the domains of knowledge, governance and participation to develop action plans in the multiple areas where action is urgently needed.

It will also take a willingness to look at Winnipeg through new eyes. Through both eyes. Through loving eyes. We need to see each person in Winnipeg with the compassion that comes from knowing that we are more the same than we are different: we all want our parents, our grandparents, our siblings, our children and our grandchildren to be healthy and thrive, to have the opportunity to dream and realize.

We will need courage to recognize how some of our old thinking, views and systems may unintentionally perpetuate limited opportunity. It will take honesty to acknowledge where we can do better. We will need humility and respect to genuinely listen to each other, to be willing to shift our frames of reference and points of view to include the perspectives and truths of many. We will need pearls of wisdom and multiple views through facets of the crystal to inform our way forward.

Let’s set our sights on a vibrant, healthy Winnipeg where diversity is celebrated and everyone is valued and feels that they belong. Where most people are resilient and describe themselves as happy and everyone reaches their full physical and mental health potential. Let’s transform our relationships and create new opportunities. Lets “…dream of a fairer world, but take the pragmatic steps necessary to achieve it”18 Let’s start a conversation. Let’s work together.

Because we’re all in this together.

18 Preface to Social Determinants of Health- What Doctors Can Do. Sir Michael Marmot. British Medical Association, October 2011. Available at

Special Thanks


This document represents the work and consensus of a number of working groups under the direction of the Winnipeg Health Region Promoting Health Equity Oversight Committee. At least 80 people were involved in shaping this document. We thank each and every person for their engagement and thoughtful contributions.

Data used in this report mostly comes from existing reports referenced in the document, but we acknowledge the Manitoba Center for Health Policy, Healthy Child Manitoba and Manitoba Health in particular for the resources they have produced that call attention to health equity.

We also acknowledge with appreciation the many organizations and individuals who are already working on creating more equitable conditions for health in many sectors, many of whom have been dedicated to this important work for years.

Finally, and most importantly, we acknowledge many individual Winnipeggers who despite significant barriers, strive every day to make a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. They have our respect and deserve our support.

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Traditional Territories Acknowledgement
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located on the original lands of Treaty 1 and on the homelands of the Metis Nation. WRHA respects that the First Nation treaties were made on these territories and acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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