Basics for Health Society collaborates with health care and community organizations to address the social and economic needs of the people they serve. We work on program design, planning, and evaluation; we train university and college students to act as resource connection volunteers; and we research what we do, to build the experience and evidence for social determinants of health (SDOH) intervention work.

We are committed to an equitable health care system that recognizes basic socio-economic needs as an essential component of health care delivery. We also believe in the power of volunteerism and in the ingenuity and passion of peers and students to help support people in need.


(1) Research and Education

Goal: To increase the capabilities of individuals and groups to encompass/address the social determinants of health in their daily paid/unpaid work. To contribute evidence and experience for this work .

(2) Community Development and Promotion

Goal: To inform society about the social determinants of health. To support wellness and decrease structural violence.

(3) Partnerships, Primary Care and Networking

Goal: To develop relationships with stakeholders and partners to collectively maximize efforts and supports for addressing the social determinants of health.

(4) Social Determinants of Health Intervention

Goal: To build service excellence in addressing the social determinants of health in health and community settings.

(5) Finance and Fundraising Accountability and Administration

Goal: To be fiscally responsible in managing funds received as a result of fundraising and/or grant-writing efforts.



  • First “Basics for Health” SDOH intervention project began in BC as a pilot funded by ImpactBC at the REACH Community Health Centre (CHC).

  • Project was based on a successful model developed in the United States called Health Leads USA.  (Two co-founders reached out to Health Leads to learn from their model and identify possibilities for a project in BC)

  • B4H founders met with ImpactBC staff to offer support for research, evaluation, and to liaise to address SDOH in primary care and health education.


  • Late 2013, ImpactBC returned its focus to its core mission of quality improvement and patient engagement in health care, and the Basics for Health pilot program was closed.

  • Through the pursuit of community grant funding, REACH CHC was able to sustain the program, where it continues today, modeled on the previous Basics for Health project, and serving patients of the dental and medical clinic.

  • Founders retreat held to discuss meeting the need for ongoing SDOH support in BC.


  • Basics for Health Society was founded! This was in response to the ongoing need for, and interest in, programs and resource connection services to address social determinants of health.  Dr. Vanessa Brcic (family medicine), Manjit Chand (social worker; former ImpactBC program manager) and Sarah Dobson (public health) formed the first Board of Directors in April 2014.

  • Organization led by Directors and a small Advisory Board with experts in their respective fields, and with additional support from need-based working groups.

  • The Board of Directors of Pain BC, an external organization to Basics for Health Society, identified the social determinants of health (SDOH) and poverty as a priority issue for the people it served.

  • Pain BC obtained funding from the Ministry of Health to support this work.

  • Basics for Health Society was offered its first contract by PainBC.

  • Basics for Health Society designed and managed a program specifically for Pain BC called “Connect for Health” with the goal of offering SDOH resource connection service and support for people living with chronic pain in BC.

  • In addition to the Connect for Health program, we consulted with Vancouver Coastal Health, the St. Paul’s Family Practice Ward, and the Health Connections Clinic in North Vancouver to discuss together how to grow capacity for SDOH in those organizations. We learned about opportunities and limitations in SDOH work, which informed future research.


  • Connect for Health grew and operated with a paid program coordinator, paid educator, and many volunteers who ran the program and call centre from Monday to Friday.

  • Volunteer appreciation and education events held, including for new cohorts of call-centre volunteers.

  • Basics for Health hosted its first public event and AGM at the HIVE, a public panel discussing "Social Determinants and the Health Care System: Who Is Responsible?" Our distinguished panelists included Roberta Price,  Coast Salish elder; Trish Garner of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition; Dr. Rita McCracken, family physician and Associate Head of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care; and Dr. John Millar, Clinical Professor Emeritus at the UBC School of Public and Population Health, Vice President of the BC Public Health Association, and former BC Provincial Health Officer.


  • Connect for Health continued with a paid program coordinator, paid educator, and many volunteers who ran the program and call centre from Monday to Friday.

  • Volunteer appreciation and education events held, including for new cohorts of call-centre volunteers.

  •  Basics for Health worked with an external evaluator to describe and assess the program. See a poster summary here that we presented at the 2016 Canadian Pain Society annual conference.


  • In the latter half of 2017, after 3 years of funded program delivery by Basics for Health Society, and with sustainable funding from the Ministry to support the needs (including SDOH) of people living with chronic pain in BC, we worked with PainBC to transition the Connect for Health program (now called the Pain support line) to full and sustainable management by PainBC.

  • Staff and the Board of Directors supported the smooth transition of Connect for Health, including staff, volunteers, and program operations, to Pain BC.

  • Basics for Health began work on re-visioning and developing a 2018 to 2020 Basics for Health Strategic Plan with the help of a skilled facilitator.


  • Work on the 2018 – 2020 Strategic Plan for Basics for Health finalized.

  • Letter of introduction and connection sent to the newly formed BC College of Family Physicians Social Determinants of Health Committee.

  • Research projects started:

    • Capacity to address Social Determinants of Health in Primary care: Experiences of Social Workers in BC (in partnership with a UBC Family Practice Resident)

    • Gaps in services addressing Social Determinants of Health: A retrospective chart review of client experiences with a non-profit organization in BC (in partnership with a UBC FLEX elective student)

  • Working groups founded:  Communications; HR; Research; Education/Training; SDOH Tool development.

  • Having completed a new board orientation document and strategic plan and with 3 board members completing their terms through 2018, we are looking to build our Board of Directors to move into more project work in 2019.


  • In partnership with two family physicians in Greater Vancouver, we were awarded two project grants from the BC College of Family Physicians: one is to complete the data analysis for our qualitative study “Gaps in Addressing SDOH”, and the second to develop a SDOH assessment and intervention tool that for input into the EMR.

  • We are also looking ahead to organizing a conference on in the next 1-2 years in partnership with our collaborators - stay tuned!