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Income may be the most important determinant of health as it shapes the overall living conditions for health.1 The quality of other determinants of health such as housing, child care, and access to post-secondary education are affected by individual level of income. With a low income, a person is less likely to afford some of the basics of health such as housing, food and clothing. Lack of income increases barriers to participation in many of the activities that are part of community life. The end result can be social exclusion which can mean a less fulfilling day-to-day life which in turn affects one’s health.2


Poverty Trends 2017

The report, Poverty Trends 2017, provides selected Canadian data, including:

  • Most people living in poverty in Canada are working poor (70%), including those who work full-time at minimum wage.
  • The median income for people with disabilities is almost half of the median income of those without disabilities (57%).
  • Single-parent families are most often female-led (80%), and of these households, Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities have higher poverty rates.6

Realizing Our Potential: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (2014-2019)

Learn about new and enhanced programs, services and benefits that will reach more vulnerable people and lead more families toward a brighter future.


The Impact of Wealth on Health

There is much evidence that shows the impact of wealth on health. For example, the life expectancy of those living in a rich neighbourhood can be as high as 21 years more than those living in a poor neighbourhood in some communities.3 Individuals with lower income are at risk for a range of negative health outcomes such as heart disease, poor mental health, depression, diabetes and obesity among others.4

Some studies have shown that Canadians have limited awareness of the link between income and health outcomes. However, when the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) travelled around the country during the winter and spring of 2013 conducting town hall meetings about the social determinants of health, income was one of the main determinants identified by participants. They felt that the need to address poverty was a fundamental concern and emphasized that poverty underpinned most other social determinants of health.6 Learn more →

Poverty Reduction Strategy

Ontario began implementing a poverty reduction strategy in 2008 with a requirement for review every five years. In September 2014, Realizing Our Potential: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2014-2019 was released, outlining planned actions by the province to continue to reduce poverty through targeted investments and supports. This strategy continues efforts to break the cycle of poverty for children and youth, but also expands efforts to reach additional populations that are experiencing the effects of poverty.

Date of creation: September 9, 2013
Last modified on: March 5, 2018


1Mikkonen, J. & Raphael, D. (2010). Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Toronto: York University School of Health Policy and Management, p. 12.
2ibid, p. 12.
3Canadian Medical Association. (July 2013). Health care in Canada: What makes us sick? Retrieved from
4Shankardass, K., Lofters, A., Kirst, M. & Quinonez, C. (2012). Public awareness of income-related health inequalities in Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from
5Op. cit., Canadian Medical Association, p.4.
63. Citizens for Public Justice. (October 2017). Poverty Trends 2017.Retrieved November 8, 2017 from https://www.cpj.ca/poverty-trends-2017