Public Health Authorities, Public Policies and the Built Environment: Reference Framework

The concept of built environment refers to the human-constructed aspects of the living environments of populations. Together these constructed elements form an important part of human habitats, in that they affect the manner in which the places we inhabit are organized and populated. This document presents a reference framework to contextualize the concept of “built environment” while linking it to the actions of public health authorities in Canada.

The living conditions of populations, which include the built environment, have long been considered by North American and European health authorities to be important health determinants. Foucault (1976) showed that modern European public health administrations developed in parallel with increasing urban populations in the 18th century, notably because of concerns these increases raised about the impact of habitat on population health.

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