August 6, 2018
As physicians, we know that income is strongly tied to health. People in poverty have shorter life expectancies and are more likely to suffer from mental illness, addiction, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Poverty also has major impacts on our health-care system as a whole, costing an estimated $32 billion yearly in Ontario due to increased use of health services, social assistance, justice services, and lost productivity. Investments in poverty reduction can have a major impact on rates of hospitalization, “Hallway Medicine,” and wait-times in emergency rooms.
We agree, the social assistance program is broken and needs to be fixed. Fortunately, the Roadmap for Change, a report developed by the Income Security Working Group, outlines a 10-year transformation of the income security system that if implemented, could make Ontario a world-leader in poverty reduction.
Rather than “getting people back on track” the changes proposed by the Conservatives will entrench people in deeper poverty.
If Ford’s government is truly “For the People”, it should address injustice, remove barriers and provide individuals with the means to fulfil their potential. It should not further marginalize some of our society’s most vulnerable members.