Imagine the stress and health effects on a family struggling to pay for their home and feed their children. It’s a reality Saskatchewan families face, but now many are hopeful for real change.
“We know from our studies 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. “This is why we were so supportive of the collaborative ‘Poverty Costs’ campaign launched in March and were very pleased to hear the government’s commitment last week of 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. This requires a dedicated and coordinated approach to development, implementation and evaluation. We look forward to working together with our partners to identify possible elements of a poverty reduction strategy in the coming weeks and months as a starting point for a healthier future for all people in Saskatchewan.”
Saskatoon Health Region commends all those involved in the Poverty Costs Campaign 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.