Letter to the Special Diet Review Committee on Poverty as a Medical Condition

Special Diet Expert Review Committee
Director, Ontario Disability Support Program
80 Grosvenor St., 3rd floor
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1E9

June 5, 2006

Re: Evidence-based submissions for consideration by the expert committee

I am writing on behalf of Health Providers Against Poverty to ask that “Poverty” be included as a medical condition in the Special Diets Schedule.

There is clear evidence in the medical literature linking poverty to morbidity and mortality. Attached, please find a referenced summary that details this relationship between poverty and health. In addition, please find a document prepared by Toronto Public Health entitled “The Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket in Toronto – 2004”.

It is our opinion that the diagnosis of Poverty should be added to the Schedule; this diagnosis should mandate a special diet consisting of the Nutritious Food Basket as described by Toronto Public Health. The analysis by Toronto Public Health states that a single person on Ontario Works needs $285.43 more money per month to afford to purchase the Nutritious Food Basket while living in market rent accommodation. As per their analysis, we are asking that the committee grant every person on social assistance who is diagnosed with Poverty $285.43 per month so that they can afford to purchase a Nutritious Food Basket.

We realize that a better solution to the poverty of people on social assistance is to raise social assistance rates themselves by the needed 40% and we hope that you will join us in lobbying the provincial government to that effect. But, until social assistance rates are raised, including Poverty as a medical diagnosis in the Schedule will allow health providers to directly improve the morbidity and mortality of impoverished social assistance recipients by prescribing them money for a healthy diet.

We thank you for considering our submission. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at tara.kiran@utoronto.ca or at 416-203-4507.

Sincerely,

Tara Kiran, MD, CCFP
Steering Committee Member
Health Providers Against Poverty

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