Access to health care declines as poverty rises

Sep 25, 2012 | News

by Jeanette Liu

University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana school of public health will be holding their fifth annual health conference later this week.

The 5th annual Dalla Lana health conference planning committee. COURTESY ZHARA BHIMANI.

The student run event entitled Health, Austerity and Affluence, will create a forum for academics, field leaders and organizations to talk about how access to healthcare has been compromised by the widening gap between the rich and poor.

The conference aims to educate people that marginalized communities have more limited access to good healthcare, Garima Talwar, co-chair of the conference told Humber News.

“Poverty slaps us in the face everyday when we walk outside of our homes or just when we walk out if we don’t have a home,” Talwar said.

“I don’t think most Canadians think we live in a society that is increasingly unequal but if we look at the situations that other people are living in – whether they’re immigrants, refugees or people with disabilities – poverty is there. And, the poorer you are, the poorer your health status is,” she said.

In Ontario, the gap between the marginalized and wealthy continues to grow and the number of the poor is still rising, according to a report by the Ontario Common Front, a coalition of labour and community groups.

The report said 600,000 family incomes are dropping or stagnant even as living costs rise in the province, and one in every seven kids struggle with poverty.

Bill Worrel, Etobicoke’s Lakeshore Area Multi-service Project Community Health Centre director, said access to healthcare for the underprivileged is getting worse. His centre is seeing a surge of patients who can’t access mainstream healthcare.

“People who are poor, newcomers to Canada, immigrants and people who self identify as different sexual orientations are all apart of those who might not get proper health care access,” he said. “There’s a crisis here and serious thinking about expanding community based services needs to be done.”

The conference will start at 8:30 a.m. Friday and is open to the public.