March 27, 2012: Health Providers Against Poverty today expressed dismay at the Ontario government’s continued assault on the health and pocketbooks of the province’s poorest residents.
A freeze in welfare rates is effectively a cut to the income of people who are struggling to live on almost 60 per cent less than what they received through social assistance 20 years ago. This is an assault to the health of social assistance recipients, and will continue to shift the burden of care from the income support system to the health system, says Gary Bloch, a family physician in Toronto.
The McGuinty government today confirmed rumours of a freeze to social assistance rates, as well as slowing of the increase in Child Tax Benefit payments. While a short-term savings looks good on the books today, in our offices we expect to see the ongoing health impacts of increased poverty among social assistance recipients now and children currently growing up in poverty over the next decades. Unfortunately, short-term thinking often produces long-term troubles, stated Laura Hanson, a nurse in Toronto.
Anne Egger, a nurse practitioner in downtown Toronto, expressed similar concerns: I continue to see astounding rates of chronic illness, such as diabetes and heart disease, among the low income people in my practice. I expect this trend to worsen with social safety net-weakening budgets like this one. When the government’s books get lighter, my workload gets heavier.
Health Providers Against Poverty is a group of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other frontline health providers dedicated to reducing poverty as a frontline health intervention. HPAP recognizes poverty as the predominant determinant of health, and advocates for poverty reduction as a means to improving the health of all Ontarians.