Sunday, November 29, 2009

"the most powerful tool we have in our health-care armamentarium is income redistribution"

Rich vs. Poor: The lives we can expect from our income
Both longevity and quality of life are now measured by statisticians, but however you parse the data, Canada's poor have worse life expectancy than the well off.

Andre Picard

Andre Picard

.....There are a lot of numbers to digest here, but the bottom line is this: People's income (or lack thereof) has about twice the impact on their health as cancer does. That is a humbling bit of data. It also raises the question: Why is tackling poverty not a health priority?

Patching and mending is all well and good, and our sickness-care system does a good job of it. But the data tell us that the most powerful tool we have in our health-care armamentarium is income redistribution. The most powerful drug we have – money – is pretty plentiful in Canada. But it is not being prescribed to everyone who would benefit. Yesterday, the group Campaign 2000 released its 2009 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada. It showed that 637,000 children are still living in low-income families – two decades after federal politicians vowed to eradicate child poverty. One can only despair that, in a country with one of the highest life expectancies in the world, these children are being deprived of almost a decade of life from the get-go, and we seem largely indifferent.