Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Justice launched the Dignity for All Campaign in 2009. This multi- year, non-partisan national campaign aims to create a poverty-free and socially secure and cohesive Canada. While everyone plays a role in national poverty reduction the federal government is crucial and therefore the campaign is focused on three federal policy goals:
- Creation of a comprehensive, integrated federal plan for poverty elimination
- Passing of a federal Act to eliminate poverty, promote social inclusion and strengthen social security
- Collection and allocation of sufficient federal revenue to invest in social security
In Canada 4.8 million people, or one in seven, live in poverty and struggle to pay the rent, afford nutritious food, and meet basic needs. In early 2015 Dignity for All released their anti-poverty plan which is based on the notion that poverty is a violation of Canada’s human rights obligations. They make recommendations in 6 key areas - income security, housing and homelessness, health, food security, early childhood, and childcare, and jobs/employment. To create the document Dignity for All held 6 different policy summits bringing together leaders from academia, social policy organizations, provincial and territorial anti-poverty movements, national associations, faith-based groups, unions, and front-line service agencies.
Poverty and Health
The anti-poverty plan focuses on the often ignored impact of social and economic circumstances on health, also known as the social determinants of health. Social determinants, particularly income, are strongly correlated with health outcomes. Canadians living in poverty perform worse on health and social indicators such as life expectancy and prevalence of diseases, stress, and psychological problems. As income decreases so does health.
This effect is most apparent among groups with high levels of poverty such as the Inuit, First Nations, and Métis people. It is well documented that Inuit, First Nations, and Métis populations have lower life expectancy and higher rates of chronic illness than the general population.
People living in poverty experience significant barriers to health and healthcare such as long waitlist, challenges accessing or affording transportation, and inability to cover expenses such as drugs and dental care that aren’t covered under the provincial insurance plans. While Canada is proud of our national health care system, Medicare only covers 70% of health care costs – unlike many other wealthy countries that cover drugs and homecare.
The relationship between health and poverty is bi-directional as poverty can contribute to poor health and people experiencing poor physical and mental health often have low incomes. It is estimated that 20% of total annual health care spending can be attributed to socio-economic disparities.
- Recognize in legislation the social determinants of health
- Develop a new 10-year Health Accord for the implementation of high-quality, universal, culturally-appropriate, publicly-funded and managed health promotion, prevention, and acute care services.
- Develop a Continuing Care Program
- Develop a new universal, publicly-funded National Pharmacare Program
- Implement the National Mental Health Strategy developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada
- Fund and support a collaborative ventures designed to improve the health and well-being of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis peoples with the final goal of establishing a First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Health Authority
- To fully rescind the 2012 cuts, totalling $20 million, to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)
If you feel passionate about putting to plan into action help spread the word using the hashtag #WeHaveaPlan