(Saskatoon) - Saskatoon Health Region hopes the work of the Saskatchewan Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction, and its recent recommendations, result in real change for struggling Saskatchewan families.
The Saskatchewan Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction released their recommendations to the Minister of Social Services at the Saskatoon United Way Monday after gathering input and perspectives from the community to identify strengths within current programs and services, and areas of improvement for more action. These recommendations to the Government of Saskatchewan will inform the development of a Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Saskatoon Health Region is fully supportive of the vision and aggressive targets being proposed by the Advisory Group. The guiding principles they chose resonate with the patient-first perspective being used to improve health services, including the need to work in partnership with patients, community organizations and other sectors for improvement, and the need for accountability.
The Region also supports the recommendations to improve key determinants of health such as income security, housing and homelessness, early childhood development, education and training, employment, and food security, as these areas are key to improving the health and well-being of people in our region.
"We are pleased to see recommendations for the health sector to enhance preventative services and primary health care, and ensure equity of access to all health services for those living in poverty. These are important factors to include in our ongoing efforts to improve the health of the population and in our current work on improving patient flow from an upstream perspective," says Dan Florizone, President and CEO of Saskatoon Health Region.
"We know from our studies that people living in poverty were significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, injury, poisoning, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mental health concerns than those with incomes that met their basic needs," says Dr. Cory Neudorf, Saskatoon Health Region's Chief Medical Health Officer and a member of the Poverty Reduction Advisory Group. "This is why we were so supportive of the collaborative 'Poverty Costs' campaign launched last year, and were very pleased to hear the government's commitment last fall to a provincial poverty reduction strategy."
'Poverty Costs' is a joint initiative lead by the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Upstream, Saskatoon Health Region, the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership and Unite Digital Marketing Co-op. The campaign focused on raising awareness about the economic cost of poverty and gave Saskatchewan citizens the opportunity to voice their support for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.
Poverty is complex and people experience poverty for different reasons. Saskatoon Health Region has studied health disparities within the community while working, along with other organizations, to raise awareness of poverty and build support for addressing its root causes. The growing support for a comprehensive strategy became clear in May 2013. The Health Region teamed up with the University of Saskatchewan to compare Saskatoon residents' attitudes and understanding of the social determinants of health to a similar study initially completed in 2006. The May 2013 study found that there is increased public understanding about these social determinants and support for addressing the underlying causes including poverty.
"Research has shown that evidence–informed comprehensive poverty reduction strategies paired with concrete goals and targets are effective and efficient," says Dr. Neudorf. "These work by addressing the root issues that cause poverty in our communities and improve the conditions that make us healthy such as our housing, employment, education and social supports as well as income."
Saskatoon Health Region commends all those involved in initiatives to address poverty in our province and thanks the numerous organizations, groups and individuals who have voiced their support for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan and who work every day to increase the quality of life for people in our province.