Housing, rather than being the safe haven and source of security that it is for the majority of Canadians, is clearly one of the biggest barriers to health and well-being for Inuit, as well as a significant challenge to economic development in the Inuit homelands (Inuit Nunangat). The latest statistics show not only Inuit Nunangat enduring the most crowded housing conditions in Canada, but also the resulting toll on Inuit children. the continuous shortage of housing in combination with a rapidly growing population has Inuit leaders and government officials struggling for a better way to describe a situation that is dangerously deteriorating. until recently, they have referred to it as a ‘housing crisis.’ Now, they call it a ‘critical public health issue,’ underlining the role played by housing in the health of the Canadian Inuit population, particularly children.
What follows is a summary of key findings from the paper entitled <i>If Not Now…When? Addressing the Ongoing Inuit Housing Crisis in Canada</i>, part of the publication series “Health and Housing Realities for Inuit” produced by Inuit Tuttarvingat of the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). The paper is based on a literature review designed to highlight the critical relationships between housing and health for Inuit. The paper’s ‘determinants of health’ (i.e., the underlying conditions that foster or hinder health) perspective helps identify specific links between housing conditions and health outcomes in the Inuit regions. Interactions between housing and other health determinants, such as poverty and education, and their effects on a wide range of physical, emotional, social, and mental aspects of health are also discussed.
Research can provide the evidence that will help Inuit improve their health status. But in order to do so, the research conducted must be based on defined needs (e.g., reduce respiratory infections). In addition, research results must be clear and accessible to policy-makers to assist them in the design and implementation of measures that will address the causes of poor housing and improve health outcomes.