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income and health

While the incomes of Canada's wealthiest are increasing, the absolute wealth of our poorest is decreasing. As this gap grows, so too do the differences in people's health risks, care and outcome. The poorer people are in Ontario, the more likely they are to have shorter lifespans, to be overdue for screening tests and to suffer from multiple chronic health conditions.
The link between health and income is solid and consistent -- almost every major health condition has worse outcomes among people who live at lower income. I will continue to advise my patients to exercise more and eat healthier food, but this tax season I will also spend time prescribing tax returns.
How much a society spends on health care has not been found to be directly related to any health outcome tested. A society that spends so much on health care that it cannot or will not spend adequately on other health-enhancing activities may actually be reducing the health of its population. If a country wants to see significant improvements in its population health, the best public policy is to eliminate poverty.