Energy and Health

Research projects under this theme relate to understanding how community conditions, such as levels of deprivation and inequality, urban-rural location, housing conditions, and social cohesion, influence peoples’ health and well-being.

Energy Poverty in Canada (EPIC)

Home in Bridgewater, NS in winter. Photo credit: ©John McCarthy.

In Canada, as many as 1 in 5 households are living in energy poverty (EP). In Atlantic Canada, this number rises to over 1 in 3. Households are considered to be in EP when they are unable to afford enough energy at home to meet their needs and stay warm (or cool). Evidence shows that living in EP can harm physical and mental health and that EP disproportionately affects low-income households and those in small towns and rural communities.

This project, EPIC, is led by Prof. Riva and is the first examination of EP as a determinant of health in Canada. EPIC will: 1) map EP at small geographies across Canada, document the scale of the problem, and identify which communities are most at risk and 2) tap into national survey and linked cohort data to provide evidence on the public health impacts of EP in Canada.

By providing rigorous evidence, EPIC will lay the foundation for research and action to reduce EP and improve health-related outcomes and contribute to national policy discussions at the nexus of public health, housing, and sustainability.

MinErAL Partnership: Mining Activities, Health and Well-Being in Indigenous Communities

The goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the direct and indirect impacts of mining activities on Indigenous Peoples and communities’ health and well-being, their cumulative impacts over time, and their integration in Impacts Assessments. The specific focus is on Health Impact Assessments (HIA), which pay attention to health and changes in the social-ecological determinants of health.

By conducting a scoping review of the scientific literature on Indigenous conceptualizations of health and well-being and associated social-ecological determinants, we will develop a conceptual framework of the direct and indirect influence of mining activities. This framework will guide a critical discourse analysis of the representations and considerations of Indigenous Peoples’ and communities’ health and well-being meanings, experiences, and priorities in Environmental Impact Assessments, Social Impact Assessments, and HIAs of mining projects.

A case study analysis of the process of HIA in, or by, Indigenous communities will guide the realization of HIA in collaboration with community members and stakeholders in two to three Indigenous communities in northern Canada, Australia, and Sweden. The main deliverable of this project will be a guide to assist Indigenous communities and organizations in conducting HIA.

Header Photo: Dr. Marie Baron