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Priority Populations

iStock_000050774618_XXXLarge.jpgThe Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) mandates that public health units in Ontario assess local population needs, including the identification of priority populations. According to the OPHS, “the board of health shall use population health, determinants of health and health inequities information to assess the needs of the local population, including the identification of populations at risk, to determine those groups that would benefit most from public health programs and services (i.e., priority populations).”1

The Priority Populations Project, which is comprised of the Priority Populations Technical Report and Focus On: A Proportionate Approach to Priority Populations, has been developed in response to public health unit requests for guidance in identifying priority populations to meet the OPHS mandate.

Through a review of the literature, key informant interviews, and surveys, the Priority Populations Project examines three questions:

• What are priority populations?
• Why do we identify priority populations?
• How do we identify populations?

Priority Populations Technical Report

Focus On: A Proportionate Approach to Priority Populations


PHO’s Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention team provides expertise to Ontario’s public health sector on a broad range of health promotion topics. Find out more about our products and services on our department page, or by contacting us at

 1 Ontario. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Ontario public health standards, 2008. Revised May 1, 2014 [Internet]. Toronto, ON: Queens Printer for Ontario; 2014 [cited 2015 Sept 1]. Available from:  

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Page last updated: 2016-04-11 11:48 AM
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