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.


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

Download a PDF version of the Letter

Press Release: Ontario Government Sentences Low Income Ontarians to Chronic Illness and Premature Death

Mar 24, 2006

Ontario Government Sentences Low Income Ontarians to Chronic Illness and Premature Death

TORONTO – The spring budget released by the Ontario Liberal government on March 23rd raises social assistance rates by a ridiculous 2 percent. This means that the lives of Ontarians surviving on welfare and disability are simply considered to be expendable. Social assistance recipients will get no relief from hunger, malnutrition, preventable chronic illnesses and early death.

“It has never been more clear that the McGuinty government cares nothing about poor people in this province. With this budget, they have basically ordained that the 760,000 Ontarians on assistance are to be sentenced to lives of chronic illness for the apparent crime of being poor,” says Kathy Hardill, a Toronto nurse practitioner who works exclusively with low income people.

Having a low income is the single most important factor determining whether people become ill. Health Providers Against Poverty has joined with a broad based coalition of social activists across the province to call for social assistance rates to be raised by the 40% they have fallen in real terms over the last decade.

“There is no question that what the Ministry of Social Services does not pay out today, the Ministry of Health will be paying tomorrow. When will governments start paying for an ounce of prevention rather than a pound of cure?” asks Dr. Gary Bloch, an inner city Toronto family physician.

Kathy Hardill, RNEC 416 364 3030 x 2264
Gary Bloch, MD 416 995 7018

Letter To Minister of Social Services on Health Crisis Due To Poverty

Sept 8, 2005

A group of Ontario health care providers have written a letter to the Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services, Sandra Pupatello, to express their concern about the negative effects of poverty on their patients’ health after a decade of falling Welfare rates.

Download a PDF version of the letter