11/28/2011 02:45 EST | Updated 01/28/2012 05:12 EST

Income Gap Leads To Health Problems For Montrealers


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.

Also on HuffPost

10 Ways Inequality May Be Making Life Worse