Why Income Matters
Research shows a link between income and health. The higher the income, the lower the chances of disease and early death.
Income determines our social, economic and physical environments, and access to health care, which greatly influences health (see figure below).
People with lower income have:
- Poorer mental and physical health
- Higher stress
- Less access to healthy food, affordable safe housing, health services
- More disease and early death
Wealth and income provide benefits such as healthier living and working conditions, access to healthy food, health care, recreation, transportation and protection from chronic stress due to low income.
Parents’ wealth affects their children’s education and economic and social opportunities, which shapes their health throughout life. The influence of wealth on health begins even before a child is born. It affects the quality of prenatal care for a woman, her level of stress during pregnancy and her likelihood of delivering a premature or low birth weight baby.
Want to know More?
Income in Northwestern Ontario
In Northwestern Ontario
- 21% of people live in low-income households compared with 14% for all of Ontario
- 34% of children live in low-income households compared with 17% for all of Ontario
- The Unemployment rate is 8.1% compared with 7.8% for all of Ontario
(Source: 2016 Census; 2015 Canadian Taxfiler)
Employment in Ontario
- 30% of workers are in unstable employment
- Part-time work is 20% of total employment
- Half of those making under $15 are 25-64 (mostly women)
- Full-time work is not always enough to ensure a life above the poverty line
In Northern Ontario
- A higher rate of the population living on a lower income than the rest of the province
- 800,000 people are more likely to have worse health, poorer access to health care and die earlier than people in other parts of Ontario
- People are more at risk for health inequities – in health outcomes and access to care and basic needs
- Many populations in the North face greater inequities than others
What Can You Do?
Countries with higher life expectancy have policies that protect workers, support families, and provide a safety net for all. These policies address income and wealth inequality in one of two ways:
(1) Reducing the overall gap so that everyone has the resources needed to prosper and maintain control over their lives. Examples of policies to reduce the gap include:
- a guaranteed living wage
- earned income tax credits
- family supports
- guaranteed paid vacation and sick leave
- secure pensions
- severance pay and job training for unemployed workers
(2) Making certain resources available to everyone, not dependent on a family’s individual assets. Examples include:
- universal preschool and childcare
- health/dental/vision care
- new parent support
- land use and zoning policies (e.g., for affordable housing, recreation)
Local and regional elections provide an opportunity to vote for parties and candidates whose platforms support the above policies.