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Canadian Public Health Association

Position statements


A Public Health Approach to Sex Work

February 5, 2024

The Canadian Public Health Association’s (CPHA) interest in the laws governing sex work began in 1993, in the context of a burgeoning HIV epidemic, when CPHA members debated a resolution calling for “the Government of Canada to rescind legislation that makes solicitation an offense under the criminal code.”

In 2014, CPHA released a position statement that reviewed the available evidence regarding the public health aspects of sex work in Canada and provided recommendations for effective and meaningful public policy on this issue.

Framework for a Public Health Approach to Substance Use

January 30, 2024


The Canadian Public Health Association Framework for a Public Health Approach to Substance Use


Psychoactive substances have been used throughout human history in spiritual and religious rituals, for medicinal purposes, and by significant proportions of populations for individual reasons and as part of social interactions. Examples of psychoactive substances include caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, LSD, and heroin. Interaction with these substances ranges from abstinence to a spectrum of use ‒ from beneficial to non-problemati…


Alcohol Consumption in Canada: A Public Health Perspective

June 14, 2022

On 14 June 2022, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) publicly released a position statement on alcohol consumption in Canada that included inappropriate and incorrect statements about Indigenous Peoples that could further exacerbate racist stereotypes. The statement was temporarily retracted and removed from CPHA’s website on 15 June 2022 when concerns were raised. After a thorough review by CPHA’s Indigenous Advisory Council, the Public Policy Committee, and Board of Directors, the statement is now permanently retracted.

CPHA apologizes sincerely and unreservedly for d…


Tobacco and Vaping Use in Canada: Moving Forward

May 31, 2021

In December 2011, CPHA released a position statement entitled The Winnable Battle: Ending Tobacco Use in Canada1 that called on all levels of government to take the steps necessary to eliminate tobacco consumption in Canada. Appendix 1 presents the recommendations provided in that statement. Since then, all levels of government have taken significant actions to reduce the prevalence of smoking. After 10 years, it is time to review the results of these efforts, assess the current situation and provide recommendations that may lead to further reductions in tobacco consump…

A Public Health Approach to Population Mental Wellness

March 2, 2021

In 1942, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) approved its first resolution concerning mental health. That resolution called for improvement to the provision of mental health services for Canadians in light of the effect of the war effort on the availability of such services domestically. Between 1942 and 2003, mental health and mental wellness had been, directly or indirectly, the subject of five additional resolutions and a discussion paper. Appendix 1 provides a summary of these initiatives. “Mental health” was subsequently identified as a subject for development during CPHA’s …

Review of Canada’s Initial Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

February 16, 2021

On 31 December 2019, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province. The cause of this infection was later identified as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a previously unknown coronavirus (CoV) that is morphologically similar to SARS-CoV which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by WHO on 30 January 2020, the illness was named COVID-19 on 11 February 2020, and a pandemic was declared on 11 March …


Climate Change and Human Health

October 4, 2019

Climate change is “the greatest health threat of the 21st century”1 and it is recognized that “the effects of climate change are being felt today and future projections represent an unacceptably high and potentially catastrophic risk to human health.”2 The enormity of the challenge has been catalogued in a recent Government of Canada report.3 The effects of climate change include: overall changes in temperature, increases in extreme weather events, changes in conventional patterns of disease vectors, polar ice decline, sea level rise, and changes in plant f…

Public Health in the Context of Health System Renewal in Canada

May 21, 2019

The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) has a history of contributing to the discussions concerning the development and renewal of the public health systems* in Canada. This statement, CPHA’s latest contribution, comes at a time when public health systems in some provinces and territories are being reorganized and in some cases reduced in size. The resulting changes have raised concern that these systems will no longer be able to meet the current mandate nor address future demands. The Association’s commentary concerning these changes is provided in two parts. The first is a

Children's Unstructured Play

March 12, 2019

Unstructured play happens when children follow their instincts, ideas, and interests without an imposed outcome. CPHA recognizes unstructured play as a child’s right and a critical component to child and youth health and well-being. Actions are necessary to reduce the barriers limiting opportunities for unstructured play at school and in the community. CPHA commends those school boards, municipalities, other governments and non-governmental organizations that are taking positive steps to improve children’s access to unstructured play; however, further steps are needed.


Racism and Public Health

December 17, 2018

Canada remains a nation where a person’s colour, religion, culture or ethnic origin* are determinants of health that result in inequities in social inclusion, economic outcomes, personal health, and access to and quality of health and social services. These effects are especially evident for racialized and Indigenous peoples as well as those at the lower end of the social gradient and those who are incarcerated (populations that are also disproportionately composed of racialized and Indigenous people). Complicating this scenario are government and non-governmental systems that impose barri…