Category Archives: Uncategorized

Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis

HPAP endorses the upcoming National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis.

Poverty exacerbates and can also be a consequence of  substance use. Those with lower income and unstable housing often lack the space and resources to use drugs safely. They also face barriers to seeking treatment.

Too many lives have been lost prematurely due to delayed action on the overdose crisis.

 

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We are in the midst of Canada’s worst overdose epidemic. There has been a 328% increase in overdose deaths since 2008. Thousands of people have died across the country.

When SARS hit our City in 2003, resources poured into the system. Funding was released, networks sprung up, and health care workers were redeployed.  44 people died across Canada during the SARS crisis.  Why has the response to the overdose crisis been so slow?

1 person dies of an overdose every 13 hours in Ontario.  We need immediate action now! 

Drug users’ lives are not disposable.  Overdose is preventable.  Join us on Tuesday February 21st to demand better for people who use drugs.

As part of a national coordinated day to raise awareness and demand real action on the overdose crisis, drug users, harm reduction workers and their allies will be meeting at the S/W corner of Bay & Wellesley at 11:00 am for a Memorial March and Rally.

Event details can also be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/826720594132994/

Twitter: #lifewontwait

Toronto City Budget Cuts Harmful To Health

The 2017 City of Toronto budget will be finalized in February and HPAP members are concerned about the negative health impacts of the proposed budget cuts.

Drs. Shaurya Taran and Naheed Dosani’s Toronto Star editorial highlights the disproportionate impact of city budget cuts on those who are most vulnerable.

On Thursday January 10, several HPAP members attended a budget committee meeting and provided written submissions with their concerns.

Deputation – Dr. Michaela Beder

“Particularly worrisome is the budget’s proposed $10M service cuts, which include cuts of $1.8M to Shelter, Support and Housing, including more than $1M in staffing cuts. As a doctor working in the shelters, it is clear to me that they are packed to capacity, and there is a dire need for a significant increase in funding for both TCHC housing and shelter beds. In addition, the $30,000 proposed budget cut to shut down emergency cooling stations around the city is shortsighted and will undoubtedly have detrimental effects on the most vulnerable members of our city – marginally housed young children and the elderly – who have no alternative during heat alerts. These cooling centers provide a lifesaving service to many of Toronto’s homeless and under-housed.”

Deputation – Dr. Samantha Green

“Supporting housing means supporting a healthy city. Research from Toronto has proven that access to housing leads to improved health, particularly for folks with mental illness and addiction. Providing accessible recreation and community services leads to improved physical and mental health for all our citizens. Moreover, Toronto’s reputation as a welcoming, world class city depends on our support for our most vulnerable.”

Make your voice heard by joining one of the Councillor Budget Town Halls!

Press Release: Basic Income Pilot

Health Providers Cautiously Optimistic About Basic Income Pilot, Worry Consultations Will Delay Immediate Action on Poverty Reduction

TORONTO – Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) is optimistic about several recommendations put forth by Ontario’s special advisor on basic income, Hugh Segal, last month, but remains concerned that the consultations and planning for this pilot will delay action on poverty reduction.

There are around 900,000 people, according to 2015 data, reliant on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program to meet their basic needs, who are living well below the poverty line. Single individuals receiving social assistance have incomes of roughly 45 percent of the Low Income Measure – a measure of poverty calculated by Statistics Canada.

There is extensive evidence that poverty negatively impacts health and is associated with premature mortality. The province must take urgent action, including raising social assistance rates and legislating a living minimum wage. This should be accompanied by tangible steps towards addressing gaps in other social determinants of health, such as affordable housing, transportation, and childcare.

“Our current social assistance system traps people in poverty and compromises their health. Social assistance rates need to increase significantly while we await alternate solutions. Lack of immediate action is costly to our patients lives and to the health care system,” said Katie Dorman, a family physician in Toronto.

“There are also people living close to the poverty line, while working full time and earning minimum wage. Many workers are precariously employed, do not have access to paid sick leave, and lack health benefits such as drug coverage. The province needs to seriously consider implementing a living wage”, added Samantha Green, a family physician in Toronto.

The discussion paper by Segal proposed a non-taxable no-strings attached income supplement for a group of participants age 18 to 65 years of age, set around $1320 with an additional $500 for people with disabilities. This is a welcome improvement from current income support programs, but still perpetuates the cycle of poverty, since the base amount is only 75 percent of the Low Income Measure. HPAP feels strongly that for the province to make any significant strides towards poverty reduction, the basic income would have to be set above the poverty line.

Health care providers were relieved to hear that Segal specified that no individual should be made worse off during or after the pilot. “It is important that a basic income pilot does not come at the expense of dismantling existing social programs,” said Lucy Barker, psychiatry resident in Toronto.

“We also hope the government will take seriously, Segal’s recommendation to create a Basic Income Pilot Advisory Council that includes First Nations peoples, individuals with lived experiences of poverty, representatives from community organizations, and the health sector,” said Barker, speaking on behalf of HPAP.

Press Release Dec 11 2016

HPAP Members Call For WSIB Reform

On June 10, 2016, HPAP members signed an open letter urging the Worker’s Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to improve access to necessary health care for injured workers.

More Information:
WSIB Critics Say Spending Cuts Are ‘Devastating’ Injured Workers
The Toronto Star – June 10, 2016

Press Release: Injured Workers Demonstrate in 7 Cities
IAVGO Community Legal Clinic – June 10, 2016

Become an HPAP Member!

Health Providers and Allies,

Thank you for your interest in Health Providers Against Poverty! We are an alliance of health care providers that recognize that poverty is one of the most significant risk factors for poor health.  Through advocacy, education, and patient care, we are working to eliminate poverty and reduce health inequities.

In the past year, members have advocated for decent work, called for more shelter space, and updated clinical tools.

Join our inaugural MEMBERSHIP DRIVE. As a member, you can help us set priorities, get involved in creating change, and donate to support our activities. We hope to hire a summer student, expand our teleconference options, and develop our social media presence.

Join our AGM on Thurs May 5 at 6:30 pm, 25 Cecil Street,Toronto, with guest speaker, Desmond Cole!

Sincerely,

Andrew Pinto MD CCFP FRCPC MSc

Chair, HPAP-Ontario

The Crisis in Toronto’s Shelter System

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty’s recent report Out In The Cold: The Crisis In Toronto’s Shelter System has revealed the City’s inadequate response to homelessness, particularly in the cold winter months. The report includes findings from interviews with over 100 service users at numerous Out of The Cold locations.

This report confirms HPAP member’s concerns that Toronto shelter’s are over-crowded and inaccessible, contributing to serious health risks for people who are homeless.

The Toronto Star published OCAP’s findings in an article that asserts that “Toronto is failing to meet the basic needs of its homeless population”.

HPAP supports OCAP in demanding that the City take the following measures to address this crisis:

  1. Ensure the shelter system’s 90% maximum occupancy policy
  2. Immediately open new spaces to shelter people, including the Federal Armouries
  3. End discriminatory practices within the shelter system
  4. No further loss of shelter beds
  5. Respect the right to housing

Join OCAP for a Public Release of the Report and March to City Hall on Wednesday, February 17 at 11:00 AM, starting at Queen and Sherbourne.