Chart by the Canadian Medical Association
There is strong and growing evidence that higher social and economic status is associated with better health. In fact, these two factors seem to be the most important determinants of health.
—Public Health Agency of Canada
Poverty is a fundamental determinant of both physical and mental health. This isn’t surprising, given that living in poverty means you are more likely to live in cold, damp or unsafe housing. You are also more likely to suffer more illness, have a chronic health condition, and die earlier.
A significant cause of these health problems is lack of food. B.C. is facing a chronic hunger problem and significant food insecurity. After paying for rent, heat and electricity, people with low income have little money left over for food so they are less likely to eat fruit, vegetables, milk products, and other food that provide the nutrients they need for good health.
Take Action: Sign up to take Raise the Rates’ 5th Annual Welfare Food Challenge in October 2016.
To learn more, read our “Poverty: Health Hazard for All” Fact Sheet.
Poverty: A serious detriment to public health
I was pleased to see the B.C. Ministry of Health use the powers of the provincial health officer to designate opioid drug overdose deaths a public-health emergency. But this is not the only, nor is it the largest, such emergency.
Of the likely candidates for designation as a public-health emergency, none seem as important as poverty, especially in B.C.
B.C. remains the only province that does not have a poverty-reduction plan. Yet the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition notes that 9.9 per cent of the province’s population lives in poverty — and that it is more than 13 per cent, if we use a measure of poverty that reflects the actual cost of living.
Read the full column here.
Every year, at least 3 million Canadians are unable to fill their prescriptions due to cost. In addition to not filling prescriptions, many Canadians split or skip doses to try to make medications last longer.
More and more people are calling for a national pharmacare strategy, including doctors, nurses, economists, as well as people in contract and service jobs who don’t have drug coverage.
These calls reflect a growing problem that affects everyone in Canada: we are paying too much for prescription drugs. Learn more about the Campaign for National Drug Coverage here.
For-profit clinic owner Dr. Brian Day has launched a constitutional challenge that could fundamentally change Canada’s public health care system. The challenge is an attempt to bring US-style two-tier health care to Canada, which would deepen inequality. Learn more about the case, which will go to trial in September 2016 here.
Poverty Free BC Speaker Series
Dr. Gary Bloch’s speaking tour of BC in September 2014 was the first of our Poverty Free BC Speaker Series. He spoke about the Social Determinants of Health, and how to tackle poverty as a health issue. Watch Dr. Gary Bloch’s presentation at Vancouver’s Carnegie Community Centre:
You can also watch a shorter version of the presentation here!
Eliminating the MSP
There’s no reason we can’t replace the revenues collected from MSP with fairer taxes, so that we fund health care the same way we fund public schools, policing, environmental protection, and all the other public programs and services.
Iglika Ivanova of the CCPA explains how here.
The Home Support System
“A strong consensus emerged from the focus group findings: the home support system could be doing so much more to help seniors stay healthy and live independently. In the face of rising health costs and an aging population, investing in home support will maximize the health and wellbeing of seniors and the cost effectiveness of our health services.”
-Marcy Cohen, a researcher with ICA and BCHC and adjunct SFU faculty member
It is now harder than ever for BC seniors to access the basic home support services they need to remain at home, despite the BC Ministry of Health’s goal to support seniors to stay independent at home for as long as possible, says a report released by the Integrated Care Advocacy Group (ICA) and the BC Health Coalition (BCHC). Read the press release and the report.
Take Action: Sign the Hospital Employees’ Union’s petition to stop privatising seniors’ care.
Poverty and Health Resources
- The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
- Poverty: Health Hazard for All Fact Sheet (BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, 2014)
- Food Costing in BC 2015 (Public Health Services Authority, February 2016)
- Dietitians of Canada BC Submission to the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (Dietitians of Canada, May 2016)
- Food Insecurity in Canada (PROOF, 2016)
- Food Insecurity in Canada (Dietitians of Canada, October 2015)
- Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (Canadian Paediatric Society, October 2015)
- HungerCount 2015 (Food Banks Canada, November 2015)
- Investing in Prevention: Improving Health and Creating Sustainability (BC Provincial Health Officer, September 2010)
- Priority health equity indicators for British Columbia: Selected indicators report (Provincial Health Service Authority, January 2016)
- Healthy Futures for BC Families (BC Healthy Living Alliance, September 2009)
- BC Healthy Living Alliance Health Inequities (BC Healthy Living Alliance)