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 ***Health care providers respond to cuts by the Ford government***


-Hamilton health care providers call on Minister McCleod and the Ford government to increase funding to Income Assistance and reverse cancellation of Basic Income pilot

August 8, 2018

As health care professionals working in Hamilton we condemn the recently announced cuts to the incomes of those in our province who already get by on the least.  The cancellation of the Basic Income pilot, which will directly impact many of our patients, has been rightly criticized as deceitful, callous, anti-scientific, wasteful and vindictive (1). Like many we had looked forward eagerly to the results of this pilot study and the hope that it carried to move us towards an evidenced based approach to poverty reduction.  Further, the declaration of halving what were already woefully inadequate and meagre increases to OW and ODSP rates will do nothing to achieve Minister McLeod’s stated goal of getting “people back on their feet”.

The government’s reckless moves with the lives of people on income assistance, which will impact the lives of many others, makes us weary about the outcome of this planned 100 day “pause” that the Minister and her government are taking to reform the system.

We know and work with patients on income assistance and, they, (it is shameful to need to point out) just like all other people, want the best for themselves and their families. The current levels of income support provided to those on OW and ODSP make it next to impossible to get out of poverty.   Placing blame on individuals for a poverty that is driven and reinforced by systemic factors is an ideological move that serves to perpetuate and worsen cycles of poverty.

As health care providers we know that socio-economic status is an important predictor of health.  Our efforts to improve the health of our patients are relentlessly hampered by the very real difficulties in life which are created by being poor: food security, housing stability, affordable child care and all the resultant stress to name a few.  Conversely, we have personally borne witness to and celebrated stories just like those circulating in the media in the past week about how people’s lives were completely changed for the better by the Basic Income pilot, allowing people to return to school, better manage their own and their children’s healthcare needs, and stabilize their housing situations, for example. (2)

For the sake of our patients and our society, which is bettered when we are all bettered, we call on the Ford government to reverse its announced cancellation of the Basic Income pilot, to reinstate the already meagre planned increases to OW/ODSP in the fall and to reform the social assistance system in a way that actually does allow people to lift themselves out of poverty and get themselves “back on their feet”.

Please sign this open letter created by Health Providers Against Poverty to send a clear and unequivocal message to our provincial leaders in government that we will not sit idly by while the health of nearly one million Ontarians is threatened.

Link for the letter here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdRFqghPXScr2D5lwwUN94tSLvViZE5tWL5XQ7orUyv7rPyyQ/viewform


Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team

The Shelter Health Network

1 Cancellation of Ontario’s basic-income project is callous and wasteful.  Globe Editorial. The Globe and Mail.  August 1, 2018www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-cancellation-of-ontarios-basic-income-project-is/

2 Natalie Paddon. Basic income: Life before, after and, once again, without. The Spectator takes a look at the pilot project and what its cancellation means to a handful of Hamiltonians. The Hamilton Spectator. August 2, 2018 https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8795958-basic-income-life-before-after-and-once-again-without/