Poverty: A Huge Cost to Our Health-care System

Today the premiers meet with the federal government to discuss the future of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and Canada Social Transfer (CST) which support provincial health and social systems.

The transfers are critical funding streams that can improve the dismal welfare rates, long hospital wait times, and limited child care spaces that plague all provinces. As governments are expected to do more with less, it is important to talk about addressing poverty.Poverty equals poor health and costs society billions of dollars each year, making it a key component of any conversation on health and social programs.

Poverty and health go hand-in-hand. People in poverty are more likely to use the health care system because of physical and mental health issues or illness, and be more likely to face an early death. Stress, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and unstable social environments are a few reasons for this.

Known as the social determinants of health, these issues can lead to increased pressure on the health care system. Current healthcare spending that is associated with poverty is estimated at approximately 20 per cent. This fact demonstrates the weight that socio-economic disparities have on health systems and the importance of discussing both the future of the CST and CHT together.

While the debate on the future of the CHT has garnered media attention in the past few weeks, little commentary is surfacing on the funding of the CST, which directly impacts programs that benefit people with low-income.

Read the full report: The Cost of Poverty: An Analysis of the Economic Costs of Poverty in Ontario

Publication Date: 
January 16, 2012
Journal Name: 
Huffington Post Canada