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Poverty Free Ontario

Overwhelming evidence from academic research and RNs’ own nursing practice shows that differences in social and economic status are directly linked to inequitable health outcomes. As is most evident in a recession, as the income gap between rich and poor widens the health disparities also increase. Those with the lowest income die earlier and have significantly higher incidences of a variety of chronic diseases, conditions and disorders. With the public and private costs of poverty estimated at $32.2 to $38.3 billion, it is clear that social investment to eliminate poverty is good health policy, good social policy and good economic policy.

 

RNAO Recommendations

Vision of a Poverty-Free Ontario

  1. Implement the Poverty Reduction Plan with multi-year sustainable funding to allow all Ontarians to have the opportunity to achieve their full potential with dignity and contribute to a prosperous and healthy Ontario.
  2. Monitor implementation of the Poverty Reduction Plan to ensure action for populations that have historically been overrepresented in poverty such as racialized and Aboriginal communities.
  3. Immediately increase the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour, with automatic annual increases indexed to the cost of living
  4. Enforce and strengthen the Employment Standards Act to improve protection of vulnerable workers.
  5. Work with the federal government to ensure that unemployed Canadians in this time of economic turmoil will be able to access Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system by expanding eligibility and improving benefit levels.
  6. Transform Ontario’s social assistance system from a punitive, incoherent tangle of contradictory rules and regulations to a person- and family-centred system that treats clients and staff with dignity. This includes raising the rates significantly to reflect the actual cost of living.
  7. The provincial government should withdraw its appeal of the court finding that addictions could be considered in deciding whether an individual is disabled and thereby act in accordance with the
  8. Introduce a $100 per month Healthy Food Supplement as a down payment towards addressing the gap between dangerously low social assistance rates and nutritional requirements.