There are clear and established links between poverty and health. According to the World Health Organization, poverty is detrimental to health because it forces people to live in environments that make them sick. In Ontario, some groups are more likely to experience poverty than others, including single-parent families, people living with disabilities, people living on low incomes, Indigenous and racialized people, LGBT2SQ+ people, refugees and newcomers. People with the lowest incomes are also twice as likely to use healthcare services as those with the highest incomes. About 20% of total healthcare spending may be due to income inequality [Health Council of Canada, 2010].

Poverty is a result of structural and systemic inequalities Reducing poverty requires significant investments and interventions specifically geared towards disproportionately impacted populations. By working to eliminate poverty we can achieve better health outcomes for all and reduce health sector costs.

Community Health Centres (CHCs), Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs), Community Family Health Teams (CFHTs) and Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics (NPLCs) see firsthand the impact of poverty on health. By providing services that address social determinants of health, Alliance members work to reduce poverty, mitigate its effects and help people make changes that will lift them out of poverty permanently.

#Take Action

Defend Disability! - Alliance members serve many people who are social assistance. About 25% of the people served by Community Health Centres are on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

The Alliance and many other organizations are concerned about the Ontario government’s proposed change to the definition of “disability” in ODSP which was announced as part of social assistance reform in November 2018 .

The government is proposing a restricted definition closer to federal government guidelines. People currently on ODSP would be grandparented. But a restricted definition would result in many people with disabilities living on low income who qualify today not being eligible in a changed ODSP program. It would push very poor people with disabilities into deeper poverty, increased stress, worse health and possible homelessness. It would put further strain on our healthcare system, social services and other government services, costing more over the long term.

Take action to urge the provincial government to keep the current ODSP program and definition of “disability”

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Read about the different ways that the Alliance and our members are supporting people to move out of poverty and the ill health that comes with it.