A Healthy Society, Updated and Expanded Edition
248 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Dec 2017
Release Date:01 Dec 2017
Release Date:06 Dec 2017

A Healthy Society, Updated and Expanded Edition

How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy

By Ryan Meili; Foreword by André Picard
UBC Press, Purich Books

A Healthy Society, Updated and Expanded Edition, is one doctor’s vision for a new approach to politics – and a new approach to building a healthier world. Brought to life through a mix of expertise and story, this book appeals beyond political lines to address our common values, arguing that health is a measure of our success as a society.

Drawing on his experiences as a family physician in the inner city of Saskatoon, in rural Saskatchewan, and in Mozambique, Dr. Meili argues that health delivery too often focuses on treatment of immediate causes and ignores more fundamental conditions that lead to poor health. Far more than the actions of health care providers, it is the social determinants of health – income, education, employment, housing, the wider environment, and social supports – that make the greatest difference.

This updated edition describes the positive steps that have been taken since the first edition was published in 2012. It includes:

  • new chapters on poverty, food security, and climate change
  • expanded discussions on basic income, poverty reduction strategies, innovative housing polices, carbon pricing, and the role of health professionals in working for health equity
  • new accounts by patients, which shed light on how health care is experienced in Canada today.

This book breaks important ground, showing us how a focus on health can change Canadian politics for the better.

This book is written for politically engaged members of the general public, health care workers and students, policy makers, and civil society organizations.

A Healthy Society now includes chapters on poverty, food security, and climate change. Thought-provoking and highly readable, it weaves together the vision of a young politician--Meili was elected leader of the Saskatchewan NDP in March 2018--and the advocacy of a good physician who has worked in rural and urban Saskatchewan and in Africa. Dr. Fiona Clement, director of the Health Technology Assessment Unit at the O'Brien Institute of Public Health, University of Calgary, Alberta Views, Vol. 21, No. 9
What do you get when an empathetic physician combines stories, concern for his community, and analysis? This special book. Ryan Meili goes from patient to society, and from social and political forces to the patient. If this book’s insights were put into practice, we would get a healthy society indeed. Michael Marmot, director of UCL Institute of Health Equity and author of The Health Gap
Meili speaks from experience, from the heart, and with passion for achieving social justice. His political insight in how to achieve prosperity for all citizens and society is creative and revolutionary. Louise Simard, former Saskatchewan minister of health and minister responsible for the status of women
Understanding health means understanding society. Ryan Meili is a physician who understands both. This book is passionate, very readable, and gives the whole system a major push toward a better future. Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
Physicians have traditionally sought to cure the ailing patient. Why are you not well? How can we make you well again? In this thoughtful and inspiring book, Ryan Meili takes this same approach to what ails us as a society. The perspective is holistic, novel, and necessary. If you want to know how we’ll get to a better future for all, then you must read this book. Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi, winner of the Man Booker Prize
Dr. Meili’s focus on health and its social determinants to drive social and political change is powerful. This book is written with clarity, centred on stories, and informed by years of experience as a family doctor and public policy reformer. Canadians would do well to heed its call to action to deepen our democracy through a focus on health. Danyaal Raza, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare
It is a huge privilege to be allowed into people’s individual stories as a family doctor, to come face to face with their most private fears and challenges. To do so while seeing the bigger picture, learning what can be generalized from each story, is the finest way to honour one’s patients. The first edition of A Healthy Society brought upstream thinking to the mainstream, showing Canadians how a health lens could help us tackle our greatest challenges. The combination of story, evidence, and vision for the future in this latest edition is what we need to chart a path to a healthier Canada. Danielle Martin, author of Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians
A vivid portrait of the adverse effects of current public policy directions upon the health of Canadians … this volume is more timely than ever. Dennis Raphael, professor of health policy and management at York University and editor of Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives
Collected in this book are stories most Canadians don’t get to hear – stories that show that Canada can, and must, be a more compassionate country. A Healthy Society should be required reading for those tasked with crafting policy in this country, those pushing for a more caring Canada, and those interested in evidence-based decision-making. Max Fineday, executive director of Canadian Roots Exchange
Ryan Meili is a family physician, an upstream thinker, MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin, and leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party. Dr. Meili has founded numerous organizations and initiatives, including Upstream: Institute for a Healthy Society, which promotes the idea that we can create a healthy society through evidence-based, people-centred policies; the Division of Social Accountability at the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, which helps to ensure that Saskatchewan’s future doctors are equipped to meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve; SWITCH, the Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health, a student-run clinic; and the College of Medicine’s Making the Links program, which gives medical students the opportunity to work in Northern Saskatchewan, SWITCH, and communities in the Global South. Dr. Meili’s work has been recognized with various awards and honours, including the Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians Award of Excellence (2014), University of Saskatchewan Alumni Achievement Award (2015), and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award (2015).

Foreword / André Picard

Foreword to the First Edition / Roy Romanow


1 A Healthy Society

2 Medicine on a Larger Scale

3 The Extra Mile

4 Growth and Development

5 The Search for a Cure to Poverty

6 Out of House and Home

7 The Warming World

8 The Equality of Mercy

9 Learning to Live

10 Heading Downstream

11 Less Politics, More Democracy

12 Our Future Together

Notes; Index

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