A word from FGM – February 2022

For most of us, the New Year is the time for those traditional resolutions about our health. We resolve to eat better, sleep better, be more active, stop smoking, reduce stress, and so on. But if we really want to live better and healthier, changes to individual behaviours are not enough. Our living conditions also profoundly influence our health. Some elements in our community protect us, while some are harmful to us. And obviously, such impacts are not equitably distributed among the population.

Inequalities in health in the Montreal area are striking, and what’s more, these inequalities last entire lifetimes. According to the Direction régionale de santé publique, between 2014 and 2018, the gap between neighbourhoods where life expectancy was the lowest and those where it was the highest was more than five years; it ranged from 78.2 to 83.6 years among men and from 82.2 to 87.6 years among women. We can see as well that hospitalizations and deaths linked, for example, to cardiovascular or respiratory diseases show a similar pattern. In some sectors, the risk of suffering or dying from one of these illnesses is twice as great.

Mental health is also affected

In a similar vein, a negative perception of one’s own health, among Montrealers aged 15 and over, can be more than twice as prevalent (7.3 % to 16.5 %) when their postal code changes. The same factors are at work when the incidence of suicide jumps from 9.2 cases to 17.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, depending on where they live. To put it another way, the risks you face can just about double (or be cut in half) depending on your address. Add to all that the impact of the many environmental and climate justice issues we face, where, once again, the same individuals and communities, generally in the same areas, are the ones at greatest risk.

This variance is a clear sign that health determinants are more than a matter of genetics, behaviours or personality. We are dealing here with a collective problem. Our environment – physical as well as social – and its inequalities profoundly influence our individual health and our capacity to thrive. Fortunately, several organizations are at work fighting to rectify these inequalities, support relevant research, and practice prevention; in short, re-establish some balance in the level of accessibility to resources we all need to live dignified and healthy lives. Since we at FGM also care deeply about social equality, inclusion and health in our community, we stand resolutely with these organizations.

Karel Mayrand
President and CEO
Foundation of Greater Montréal

FGM stories to read this month

February 2022

The Corey Koorosh Fazel Foundation Fund

After having lost him to Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Corey Fazel’s family decided to create a donor-advised fund at FGM to honour his memory and give back to the community…

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Founded in 1991, with its home base in Saint-Hyacinthe, Satellite is officially recognized in the region of Les Maskoutains for its work in preventing addiction in the community…

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Le Centre de pédiatrie sociale Laval

The CPSL contributes to the overall development of children and adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds who manifest health, developmental or socialization problems…

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