The Centre for Environmental Health Equity (CEHE) works with communities to build knowledge that contributes to healthy and just environments for all.
Despite increasing national concern about the environment, there remains little focus on the specific health impacts of environmental conditions on vulnerable Canadians – populations who frequently bear greater environmental health burdens than others.
Goals and Objectives
The main goal of the Centre is to nurture the development of community partners that will undertake research in support of their efforts to address environmental health inequities that affect them.
To achieve our goal, we:
1) Foster the collaboration of a diverse knowledge community: We work to provide common ground and strengthen relationships among community experts, academic researchers, policy makers, and other thought leaders who are concerned about environmental health inequities;
2) Advance research: We develop and implement, systematic, creative, and community relevant research-to-action projects based in scientific evidence, policy best practices, and community expertise;
3) Share what is learned: We build and facilitate dynamic knowledge exchange platforms in order to share new information and ideas to support policy action that results in more equitable environmental conditions in Canada.
What is Environmental Health Equity?
Environmental health inequity can be understood as the inadequate, unresponsive, and/or discriminatory policies that result in the concentration of multiple environmental risks, as well as inadequate access to environmental benefits among disadvantaged Canadian communities. As a result of insufficient and often unfair policies across multiple sectors (such as environmental management, urban planning and public health) many disadvantaged or vulnerable communities bear far greater environmental health burdens (such as poor air quality) and at the same time lack access to environmental benefits (such as health-supporting housing and public spaces). These deficiencies often create and reinforce health disparities.
In general, there are four Canadian population sub-groups that tend to bear a greater environmental health burden. These are:
1) Resource-dependent communities that reside in close proximity to a predominant industry (such as agriculture, forestry, oil and gas or mining);
2) Aboriginal communities, both on and off reserve;
3) Low-income and ethno-racial communities typically in urban settings; and,
4) Biologically vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women and older adults.
About Us – Our History
In 2007, over 50 representatives from academic, government, non-profit, and community sectors from across the country gathered in Hamilton, Ontario to explore a pan-Canadian agenda to address the harmful effects of environmental hazards on Canada’s most vulnerable populations.
The meeting inspired a vision for more unified research and policy action among academics, policy influencers, practitioners, non-profit organizations, community groups and students.
This vision to “promote healthy environments for all” lead to the emergence of the Canadian Network on Environment, Health, and Social Equity (CNEHSE) and the launch of several new research projects centred around community driven knowledge to understand the causes of environmental health inequity and how to address them.
Over time, growing interest and expanding partnerships in support of these projects led us to recognize the need to establish a formal Centre dedicated to collaborative environmental health equity research and action. And in 2011, the Centre for Environmental Health Equity was launched through the University of Manitoba.