Oct 3, 2013
Poverty and Inequality – Blueprint For A Sicker Ontario
Submission by Health Providers Against Poverty
- Poverty and income inequality are key determinants of health. For individuals to attain good health, they require adequate income as well as safe and secure housing.
- Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) has achieved some noteworthy milestones, with expansion of the Child Tax Benefit. However, these efforts have failed to adequately address income inequality in Ontario and are dampened by the increasing costs of living and losses of social supports in the province.
- Adults do not appear a significant focus of the PRS. In fact, the co-occurring erosion of the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit and the promotion of substandard social assistance rates ensures that many more will be hoisted into and trapped in the cycle of poverty. Many of these adults are parents who are now less able to provide what their children need.
- In order to adequately reduce poverty in Ontario, activities must be directed to equitable social assistance rates, increased minimum wage, more affordable housing, and restoration of essential benefit programs. Provincial investment in these areas will save health care costs and improve health.
- In order to fund necessary social programs and reverse the erosion of social assistance, the government must explore and implement constructive solutions such as progressive taxation of the highest income earners.
- Provincial health care must evolve to reduce health disparities among low-income Ontarians. Requisite changes include expansion of equity-based health care models such as Community Health Centres and the introduction of Universal Pharmacare.
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