Media Advisory: All party debate puts spotlight on poverty and health

    TORONTO, Sept. 20 /CNW/ - With a provincial election underway that is
dominated by discussions of education and the economy, a group of health-care
professionals and anti-poverty advocates wants to turn a spotlight onto an
issue it says is critical to improving people's health.
    On Tuesday, September 25, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, Health
Providers Against Poverty and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
are sponsoring an All Party Debate on Poverty and Health.
    According to the latest figures, one in seven people in Ontario is living
in poverty, including more than 232,000 people with disabilities and 345,000
children under the age of 18. The link between health and poverty is
irrefutable, the organizers say, and without more attention focused in this
area, the health of tens of thousands of Ontarians is at risk.
    "Poverty is the single most preventable cause of poor health and early
death. The reason we do not take this seriously as a society is that we
conveniently distance ourselves from the poor and hold them responsible for
their fate, when in fact, most of us are only a paycheque away from walking in
their shoes," says Anne Egger, a primary care nurse practitioner with Health
Providers Against Poverty (HPAP), one of the groups hosting this forum.
    "People living in poverty rarely get a chance to talk to politicians.
This debate is for them. This is a chance to get commitments from each of the
parties around the issues that matter - such as increasing social assistance
rates, the minimum wage, affordable housing and child care," says Mary
Marrone, Legal Director of the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC).
    "We want voters to understand the underlying links between poverty and
health and provide them with an opportunity to find out where the political
parties stand on this crucial issue. How we treat our most vulnerable citizens
is a test of political leadership. This forum will help inform our voting
decisions," says Mary Ferguson-Pare, president of RNAO.


      -  Representatives from the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic and
         Green parties
      -  Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar, moderator


      -  All Party Debate on Poverty and Health
      -  The event is free of charge and open to the public


      -  Innis Town Hall, Innis College, 2 Sussex Avenue (corner of Sussex
         Avenue and St. George Street) University of Toronto, Toronto.


      -  7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25

    The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) is a province-wide community
legal clinic that works with low-income people throughout Ontario to fight
poverty. Created in 2001, ISAC has used a combination of litigation, law
reform and community organizing to challenge government rules and policies
that create and perpetuate poverty.

    Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) is a group of local physicians,
nurses, dieticians, and other health providers who have joined forces with
other community advocates. HPAP's focus is on the growing gap between
government promises to promote health for all Ontarians and the dire poverty
in which our most vulnerable neighbours are forced to live.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO,
Phone: (647) 406-5605 or (416) 408-5605; Janet Maher, Health Providers Against
Poverty, Phone: (416) 782-0698 or (416) 735-0698; Mary Marrone, Legal
Director, ISAC, Phone: (416) 597-5820, ext. 5144

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