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Employment and Health

For most Canadians, one of the primary activities of adult life is participation in the paid work force. However, not all Canadians seeking work are able to find it, a reality that is reflected in national unemployment data. In July 2005, the unemployment rate in Canada was 6.8%.[1] According to the definition used by Statistics Canada, an individual is considered unemployed if he or she has been without work and has been actively seeking work in the four weeks prior to data collection.[2]

1.

Can you think of individuals without work who may not be accounted for by this definition?

It has been said that the national unemployment rate calculated by Statistics Canada is an underestimate since it fails to account for individuals in these situations.[2]

The health benefits of work

In addition to providing a source of income, employment can improve mental, physical and social health.[2] Employment provides a sense of identity, purpose, social contacts and an opportunity for personal growth.[3]

1.

Can you think of other health benefits of employment?

Not all work environments are equal, and a number of workplace factors have been linked to health. Employees who have more control, fewer stress-related job demands and greater social support at work are healthier. In addition, when employees are able to use their skills and abilities at work, their health is better.

2.

Think about your future career as a physician. How will your work environment influence your health?

3.

Compare this to the workplace environment of a sales clerk.

References for this Activity
1. Canadian Public Health Association. Board of Directors Discussion Paper. Health impacts of social and economic conditions: Implications for public policy. 2001. Ottawa, Canadian Public Health Association.

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1. Statistics Canada. Labour force survey. The Daily. July 2005. Available at: http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050805/d050805a.htm. Accessed September 2005.

2. Canadian Public Health Association. Board of Directors Discussion Paper. Health impacts of social and economic conditions: Implications for public policy. 2001. Ottawa, Canadian Public Health Association

3. Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health. Toward a healthy future: Second report on the health of Canadians. 1999.

All references for this section