Healthcare Providers to Hold Forum on the Crisis in Health Outcomes for the Poor in Ontario

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - Organizations representing healthcare workers will hold a forum on poverty and health outcomes at 25 Cecil Street, Toronto from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday September 8 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday September 9. The 2 day conference is sponsored by Healthcare Practitioners Against Poverty, the Ontario Nurses Association, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and many other organizations.

Over 100 healthcare providers are registered to attend the forum. It will explore the impact of Ontario's very low rates of social assistance and the impact of the recent cancellation of the special diet allowance, which leave hundreds of thousands of citizens, many of them disabled and children, without adequate food or other necessities of life.

"Income levels directly relate to rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. As prices increase across the board, how are those with the least income going to maintain their health and the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families?" asks Dr. Catherine Oliver, family physician and member of the group Health Providers Against Poverty. "People working in the health care sector must take action to help improve this situation".

"The cancellation of the special diet allowance will have a serious impact on health outcomes and mortality rates. Given that chronic medical conditions are hugely expensive to treat if allowed to worsen, the costs to the Ontario healthcare system dwarf the cost of adequate social assistance and the special diet allowance" says Patti Encinas, Vice-President of OCHU.

"Amid devastating cuts to healthcare and social assistance programs, food prices and energy and transportation costs keep rising.   People on ODSP and OW need a substantial increase in rates in order to eat, pay their rent and raise their children. Poor and disadvantaged people who are not able to purchase nutritious food and medicine will develop chronic illnesses and wind up in the merry-go-round of our healthcare system.  And lastly, people on ODSP and OW deserve the same rights as anyone else: The right to have enough money so that we don't have to be forced to choose between paying bills and eating every day. The right to have enough money to buy nutritious food so that we can remain healthy and thrive.  Most important, we deserve the right to receive enough respect from our government to be assured that the money, which is vital to our very existence, will never be suddenly cut", says Anne K. Abbott, artist and activist, and a member of OCAP and DAMN2025.



SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information:

Patti Encinas, Vice-President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)   905-807-3910
Liisa Schoefield, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty                                       416-899-6445

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