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The Portal brings together a broad selection of resources from all six of the National Collaborating Centres (NCCs). Search for resources by clicking on NCC, Type, Topic and Core Competency.

Please note: the Portal is not exhaustive and not all resources are indexed by PHAC Core Competency.

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Incorporating Health in Urban Planning: Quebec City Case Study

The province of Québec was one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to introduce HIA to support decision making. Québec government policy directions for land use planning require improving the quality of life in urban settings by taking into account, among other things, health, safety, and environmental protection. In addition, various government policies and programs recommend the use of HIA. These include Québec’s Public Health Program (2015-2025) and the policy for Population Health Improvement (2016). Given this favourable context, the municipality of Québec initiated an HIA implementation project as a new way of improving its citizens’ quality of life. The key objectives of this ongoing project are to perform HIAs of different scales (regional, local, site-specific) within the context of existing urban planning processes, to build regional intersectoral capacity, and to assess HIA implementation within urban planning.

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Food Deserts and Food Swamps: A Primer

Our food environments, which include the food that is available to us in our day-to-day environments, is a determinant of what we eat as individuals.

This document is intended for environmental public health professionals, including medical health officers and public health inspectors, as well as other public health professionals such as public health dietitians and health promoters, whose work may include healthy built environments or healthy communities. The document introduces food environments such as food deserts and food swamps, discusses the related health implications, provides the rationale for consideration by non-nutrition professionals, and highlights some opportunities for action and collaboration with provincial and municipal governments, as well as business operators.

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The built environment: Understanding how physical environments influence the health and well-being of First Nations peoples living on-reserve

National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health | 04/17/2018 | Aboriginal Health, Built environment Report NCCIH

This paper summarizes what is known about how the built environment influences the health and well-being of First Nations reserve communities. Although the built environment is large in scope this paper focuses in five distinct areas including:

  • housing;
  • water and wastewater management;
  • food security;
  • active living; and
  • transportation.

Each of these elements are discussed in detail with specific attention to the health, well-being and safety concerns when poorly funded, maintained or absent from First Nations reserve communities. The paper starts by introducing how Indigenous peoples in Canada deliberately planned and designed their communities so as to thrive within their territories prior to colonization. It then turns to how colonization altered Indigenous peoples’ home and community environments thereby contributing to many of the on-going social and health inequities currently experienced by them. The paper concludes with some advances and success to improve the built environments of on-reserve communities.


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Identifying and Addressing the Public Health Risks of Splash Parks

Splash parks, also known as splash pads, spray parks, or wet decks, have gained in popularity over the last decade. These interactive parks are artificially created depressions or basins into which water is sprayed, splashed or poured onto visitors; water is not permitted to accumulate, but instead drains immediately out of the play area. Splash parks may take one of two basic designs, which influences the associated public health risks. Non-recirculating or flow-through parks discharge the water directly to waste and present a relatively low risk to their users as the design is based on using fresh potable water. In contrast, recirculating parks collect water in an underground tank, apply some form of water treatment, and re-use the water again. This presents an increased risk of contamination and disease transmission that can be mitigated through proper design and operation.

The objective of this document is to identify risks to public health posed by splash parks, the factors that contribute to this risk, outline practices that can mitigate these risks, and summarize the existing regulatory environment for these facilities. It focuses on epidemiological risks rather than physical hazards such as slip and fall injuries, heat stroke, and foot lacerations.

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Using a hierarchy of evidence to assess chemical health risks of artificial turf

Over the past 40 years, artificial turf has become common in public and private settings. Compared to natural turf, artificial turf is easier to maintain, requires less water and no fertilizer, and provides a year-round access to playing surfaces. This is presumed to have important public health benefits by promoting physical activity and access to recreational space, although detailed research into benefits is lacking. However, artificial turf has potential drawbacks that range from environmental risks (e.g., chemical leaching to waterways), physical hazards (e.g., heat exposure and increased rates of injury), and finally toxicological hazards. Public risk perception around artificial turf has been amplified by a recent documentary claiming to have found an increased incidence of cancer among young adults playing soccer on artificial turf. As a result of this widespread use and growing public concern, public health agencies are frequently asked to weigh the risks and benefits of artificial turf facilities. However, this is challenging given that relatively few studies addressed artificial turf health impacts. Furthermore, data on the presence or release of certain toxic compounds is often discussed without reference to exposure scenarios. The aim of this document is to facilitate public health decision-making by discussing the strengths and limitations of the methods used to study the chemical risks of artificial turf, and how these studies contribute to our developing understanding of artificial turf health risks.

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