Poverty tied to bad health, rising costs as economy skids



    TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - Chronic and severe health conditions hit poor
Ontarians at rates that are far higher than those of average Ontarians,
according to new research released today. Diabetes, heart disease, chronic
bronchitis and mood disorders are found at rates as much as 4.5 times higher
among social assistance recipients than the non-poor, according to the study
by the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, the University of
Toronto's Social Assistance in the New Economy Project, and the Wellesley
Institute.
    "Ontario's faltering economy is putting more and more Ontarians at risk
of falling into poverty and ill health. The upcoming Ontario budget is the
time to stop further deterioration of Ontario's health status and curtail a
rising health care bill by investing in the poverty reduction strategy," says
Ernie Lightman, study co-author and Principal Investigator of the Social
Assistance in the New Economy Project at the University of Toronto.
    The study, entitled, Sick and Tired: The Compromised Health of Social
Assistance Recipients and the Working Poor in Ontario, examined health and
income data from across the province and found that people on social
assistance had worse health on 38 of 39 indicators when compared with the
non-poor. Perhaps most distressing, the study found that one in ten social
assistance recipients considered suicide in the 12-month period preceding the
study. Suicide attempts were 10 times higher for social assistance recipients
compared to the non-poor.
    Beth Wilson, study co-author and Senior Researcher at the Community
Social Planning Council of Toronto, says "Even after taking into account a
long list of factors that affect health - education, disability status,
smoking, physical exercise and many more - living in poverty and on social
assistance are still very powerful factors in the poor health of Ontarians."
    The study recommends that the provincial government make a major
financial commitment to its poverty reduction plan in the next provincial
budget as a key to keeping Ontarians healthy.
    "Sick and Tired doesn't just offer a terrible catalogue of the health
crisis being generated by deep and persistent poverty, but it also sets out a
pragmatic and effective set of solutions," says Michael Shapcott, Director of
Community Engagement at the Wellesley Institute. "The good news is that these
solutions will not only help the individuals, but they will also help build
stronger and healthier communities and will deliver a substantial economic
benefit at a time when politicians are scrambling to respond to the growing
economic crisis."
    The study will be released this morning as the keynote address at a
community forum on health and poverty at 9:30 at the YMCA at 20 Grosvenor St.
The forum, being attended by more than 150 community leaders and advocates,
will feature Toronto Medical Officer of Health David McKeown and the report
authors.





For further information:

For further information: Christopher Wulff at (647) 654-3160 or
chris@socialplanningtoronto.org

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COMMUNITY SOCIAL PLANNING COUNCIL OF TORONTO

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