Income Gap Leads To Health Problems For Montrealers

Canada Income Inequality Montreal Life Expectancy

First Posted: 11/28/11 02:45 PM ET Updated: 11/30/11 12:27 PM ET


Socio-economic inequality continues to have a profound impact on health and access to services in Montreal, including subsidized daycare, according to a new report by the city's public health agency.


The report released Monday highlights the gap between rich and poor when it comes to life expectancy and health.


The study's authors found that while the overall life expectancy of Montrealers has gone up, men from wealthier parts of the city live an average of six years longer than those from low-income neighbourhoods.


Comparing one of Montreal's wealthiest areas, Lac-Saint-Louis, with one of its poorest, Pointe-Saint-Charles, the report found an 11-year difference in men's life expectancy.


"I think what we're seeing is that this gap in health built itself over the years," said agency director Dr. Richard Lessard, who presented the report.


Lessard said for many, the disparity begins at a young age and becomes more pronounced as they get older.


Poor miss out on daycare


The report also found that the way public daycare spots in the city are allocated is not always fair, in that children from financially comfortable families tend to get $7-a-day places easier than children from poorer families.


Gina Gasparrini, spokesperson for the Quebec association representing subsidized daycares, which are known as "centres de la petite enfance" or CPEs, said it means those kids from low-income families could fall behind.


"They're missing out on an opportunity to be on equal footing with their peers. The study showed that a child who comes from a low-income area or a vulnerable family who attends a good CPE ends up at the same level as a child from an upper-class family," Gasparrini said.


The report from Lessard's agency makes a number of recommendations to the provincial government to help narrow the health gap. They include increasing social assistance payments, creating additional social housing and increasing access to public daycares in low-income neighbourhoods.


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  • Health

    According to <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/" target="_hplink">data compiled by the Equality Trust</a>, Americans living in more economically equal states live four years longer, on average, than Americans in less equal states. That trend holds true for the developed world as a whole. This chart shows the correlation between infant deaths and income inequality across the developed world.

  • Health

    According to <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/" target="_hplink">data compiled by the Equality Trust</a>, Americans living in more economically equal states live four years longer, on average, than Americans in less equal states. That trend holds true for the developed world as a whole. This chart shows the correlation between infant deaths and income inequality across the developed world.

  • Mental Health

    Data from the World Health Organization, <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk" target="_hplink">compiled by the Equality Trust</a>, shows a strong correlation between incidences of mental illness and a country's relative income gap. In this comparison of 12 developed countries, the U.S. has the highest income inequality and the highest rate of mental illness.

  • Mental Health

    Data from the World Health Organization, <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk" target="_hplink">compiled by the Equality Trust</a>, shows a strong correlation between incidences of mental illness and a country's relative income gap. In this comparison of 12 developed countries, the U.S. has the highest income inequality and the highest rate of mental illness.

  • Drug Abuse

    Data from the UN's World Drug Report 2007, compiled by the Equality Trust, shows a link between a country's income gap and drug use. The correlation isn't perfect -- Australia has higher drug use rates than the U.S., while having a significantly smaller income gap -- but it does show that Europe's more economically equal countries enjoy considerably lower illicit drug use rates. The Equality Trust also found a similar link in drug use rates within U.S. states.

  • Drug Abuse

    Data from the UN's World Drug Report 2007, compiled by the Equality Trust, shows a link between a country's income gap and drug use. The correlation isn't perfect -- Australia has higher drug use rates than the U.S., while having a significantly smaller income gap -- but it does show that Europe's more economically equal countries enjoy considerably lower illicit drug use rates. The Equality Trust also found a similar link in drug use rates within U.S. states.

  • Education

    The quality of school systems is important but the most important factor in determining education outcomes is family background, reports the Equality Trust. In that light, it's clear why income inequality would affect educational attainment: In places where struggling families have the least support, this translates into worse educational outcomes. This chart comparing U.S. states shows a strong correlation between the income gap and high school dropout rates.

  • Education

    The quality of school systems is important but the most important factor in determining education outcomes is family background, reports the Equality Trust. In that light, it's clear why income inequality would affect educational attainment: In places where struggling families have the least support, this translates into worse educational outcomes. This chart comparing U.S. states shows a strong correlation between the income gap and high school dropout rates.

  • Imprisonment

    A study published in Social Sciences and Medicine found a strong correlation between U.S. states with high income inequality and imprisonment rates. Countries that have large differences between rich and poor tend to incarcerate criminals for longer periods than those with smaller income gaps. The Equality Trust notes that <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/imprisonment" target="_hplink">this holds true even among U.S. states</a> -- Louisiana incarcerates at six times the rate of Minnesota.

  • Imprisonment

    A study published in Social Sciences and Medicine found a strong correlation between U.S. states with high income inequality and imprisonment rates. Countries that have large differences between rich and poor tend to incarcerate criminals for longer periods than those with smaller income gaps. The Equality Trust notes that <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/imprisonment" target="_hplink">this holds true even among U.S. states</a> -- Louisiana incarcerates at six times the rate of Minnesota.

  • Obesity

    The obesity epidemic sweeping the developed world could be the first medical issue to reduce life expectancy in wealthy countries in more than a century, the Equality Trust says. The Trust found a correlation between obesity rates and income inequality across the developing world, with childhood obesity also correlated to the income gap in a given country or U.S. state.

  • Obesity

    The obesity epidemic sweeping the developed world could be the first medical issue to reduce life expectancy in wealthy countries in more than a century, the Equality Trust says. The Trust found a correlation between obesity rates and income inequality across the developing world, with childhood obesity also correlated to the income gap in a given country or U.S. state.

  • Social Mobility

    Studies have shown that Americans tend to believe their country has a high rate of social mobility -- the ability to improve your economic situation -- while Europeans tend to have less faith in it. The evidence suggests it should be reversed -- those European countries with smaller income gaps actually have greater economic and social mobility, while in the U.S., and other countries with high income gaps, going from rags-to-riches is more difficult.

  • Social Mobility

    Studies have shown that Americans tend to believe their country has a high rate of social mobility -- the ability to improve your economic situation -- while Europeans tend to have less faith in it. The evidence suggests it should be reversed -- those European countries with smaller income gaps actually have greater economic and social mobility, while in the U.S., and other countries with high income gaps, going from rags-to-riches is more difficult.

  • Violent Crime

    According to the Equality Trust, there are more than 40 studies showing a link between inequality and violent crime. "The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/violence" target="_hplink">it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, disrespected and loss of face</a>," the Trust argues. This chart shows a ten-fold difference in murder rates between developed countries.

  • Violent Crime

    According to the Equality Trust, there are more than 40 studies showing a link between inequality and violent crime. "The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that <a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/violence" target="_hplink">it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, disrespected and loss of face</a>," the Trust argues. This chart shows a ten-fold difference in murder rates between developed countries.

  • Teen Pregnancy

    There is a strong correlation between income inequality in countries and the birth rate for teenage girls. This chart shows the U.S. teen birth rate at a particularly high level, but differences in abortion rates between countries mean it's hard to tell how this correlates to teen pregnancies.

  • Teen Pregnancy

    There is a strong correlation between income inequality in countries and the birth rate for teenage girls. This chart shows the U.S. teen birth rate at a particularly high level, but differences in abortion rates between countries mean it's hard to tell how this correlates to teen pregnancies.

  • Child Well-Being

    A recent UNICEF study that tracked 40 indicators of childhood well-being found a correlation between income inequality and the standard of living for children. Interestingly, the Equality Trust argues that, at this point, further economic growth won't address this issue. "<a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/child-well-being" target="_hplink">Improvements in child wellbeing in rich societies will depend more on reductions in inequality than on further economic growth</a>," the Trust argues.

  • Child Well-Being

    A recent UNICEF study that tracked 40 indicators of childhood well-being found a correlation between income inequality and the standard of living for children. Interestingly, the Equality Trust argues that, at this point, further economic growth won't address this issue. "<a href="http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/child-well-being" target="_hplink">Improvements in child wellbeing in rich societies will depend more on reductions in inequality than on further economic growth</a>," the Trust argues.

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Filed by Daniel Tencer  |