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Health Equity - What Are Others Doing?

London’s Vital Signs Report, October 2014

The London Community Foundation produced London's Vital Signs, which is part of a series of annual check-ups related to quality of life done by community foundations across Canada. As a compilation of key current statistics and studies, it looks at six issues that are important to the well-being of London and its citizens.

  1. Housing (e.g. the average wait time for social/affordable housing for a family in 2013 was 1.5 years)
  2. Health and wellness (e.g. one in five children under the age of 19 has a mental health disorder)
  3. The gap between the rich and the poor (e.g. the poverty rate in London is 11.6%, 31.8% higher than the national average)
  4. Getting started (e.g. London has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country)
  5. Environment (e.g. Londoners used an average of 194 litres of water per capita for residential use in 2013)
  6. Learning (e.g. one in five adults in London is functioning at the lowest level of literacy)

London’s Food Charter

Discussions about food security in London were initiated by the Child and Youth Network in 2009. “Food security” means that all people can access a variety of safe and nutritious foods that meet their needs and preferences and that they have enough income to buy enough of that food for each family member on a daily basis. Their first step was the development of a food charter with the vision of London as a food secure community. The charter has five key commitments and specific action steps for each of those commitments. For more information, visit London's Child and Youth Network.

The Real Issue

The Real Issue is one of the initiatives of the Ending Poverty Team of the Child and Youth Network. The wiki encourages everyone to get involved in a dialogue about poverty in London. As an example, postings encouraged people to discuss and share opinions about the social assistance review being done throughout Ontario in 2012. Ideas about how to get involved in reducing poverty whether by actions, dialogue or advocacy are presented, along with resources and links to other poverty reduction initiatives.

Breaking the Cycle: The Fifth Progress Report. Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013 Annual Report

Ontario launched a poverty reduction strategy in 2008 with the goal of reducing the number of children living in poverty by 25% over five years. A range of supports and tools, pertinent from the early years through to early adulthood, are provided in order to break the cycle of poverty. As well the strategy contains initiatives that address poverty more globally, such as access to affordable housing, and training and employment supports, that in turn helps low-income families help their children develop their full potential.

The 2013 update1 provides an overview of progress of the initiatives in place to reduce poverty. Some highlights of the reported results are:

  • increased investments in the Ontario Student Nutrition Program
  • expansion of the Children In Need Of Treatment (CINOT) and Healthy Smiles Ontario programs for dental care
  • continuance of the Parents Reaching Out grants to help School Councils target barriers to parent engagement in schools
  • continuance of the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy which had an initial focus on children and youth to support mental wellness

The Poverty Reduction Strategy and its renewal are set out in legislation. A new strategy with specific targets to reduce poverty is to be developed every five years.

The full report is available at www.ontario.ca/breakingthecycle in English and French. Ontario’s second poverty reduction strategy, Realizing Our Potential (2014-2019) is now available at this site.

Falling Behind: Ontario’s Backslide into Widening Inequality, Growing Poverty and Cuts to Social Programs-A Report of the Ontario Common Front, August 2012

The Ontario Common Front is a provincial network that is working to bring attention to growing inequality in Ontario by supporting local campaigns, getting media attention on the issue, and urging the Ontario government to adopt policies and legislations to create greater economic and social justice for all.

The Falling Behind report presents evidence that Ontario is falling behind the rest of Canada, that Ontario has growing poverty, increasing inequality, and lessened financial support for vital public services. It also maintains that policy choices have resulted in disproportionate negative effects on women, seniors, persons with disabilities, children, and racialized communities. Multiple concerns are raised related to the 2012 Ontario Austerity Budget measures, such as public housing cuts.

They conclude that “there is no question that Ontario can and should take action to improve our record on equality…We all have the ability to pressure out governments to make better choices. Indeed, it is our obligation to the next generation to do so.”2

 
Date of creation: February 10, 2013
Last modified on: February 6, 2015
 

References

1Province of Ontario (2012). Breaking the Cycle, The Fourth Progress Report. Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2012 Annual Report.
2Mehra, N. (2012). Falling Behind Ontario’s Backslide into Widening Inequality, Growing Poverty and Cuts to Social Programs. A Report of the Ontario Common Front, Toronto.