Category: Income Security & access to the social determinants of health

Basic Income, a Critical Ingredient for Social Enterprise

CASW, shared this article.

A new study from the Mowat Centre in Toronto suggests that a basic income program could encourage people to take the leap and start their own socially conscious businesses.

The study involved surveying and interviewing members of the Centre for Social Innovation, which has sites in Toronto. It indicated that a basic income could give a leg up to people with a bright idea but limited resources to get it off the ground.

“Given our research, we think that a basic income could de-risk social entrepreneurship for people. We think that it could encourage more people from marginalized communities to try social entrepreneurship as a career,” said Michael Crawford Urban, a policy associate at the Mowat Centre and co-author of the report. …

See the rest of the article:

See the MOWAT Centre report here

Consultation on feds’ Poverty Reduction Strategy, Wednesday May 31st

From Linda Lalonde outlining suggestions to approach the federal consultation, with a bunch of “highlighting from me.

Hi Folks,

Tell the federal government how to reduce poverty in Canada! The Ottawa Poverty Reduction Network (OPRN) needs your input.

As you may know, the federal government is looking at developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy in the near future and is consulting people about what that would look like. They are doing that primarily via an on-line survey but there is also an option of an in-person consultation. They have contracted the Tamarack Institute to get consultations done in up to 30 communities across Canada through their Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty initiative which Ottawa is part of with the OPRN as lead.

What would make a difference in our community? What do we need to improve? What do we need to get rid of? What could the feds do to reduce poverty?

We’re holding two sessions on May 31st, one from 1 to 4 pm and the second from 6:30 to 9:30 pm to get your opinion. Both sessions are the same so you only need to attend one and the evening session has limited space so please come in the afternoon if you can. They will be at the Overbrook Community Centre, 33 Quill St, Ottawa.

Registration is at:

This event is free but we will accept donations of bus tickets and other support. As we get more bus tickets, the number of “Tickets with bus fare” will increase. Bus tickets for participants will be available at the event if requested in advance – please choose the ticket that includes bus fare. The #18 bus comes to the Centre from St Laurent Station and the Rideau Centre and stops right outside on Quill at Queen Mary.

There is parking behind the Centre and on surrounding streets.

A report will be provided to all participants and the federal government following the event.

If you want to do some prep, take a look at the Dignity for All National Anti-Poverty Plan which will give you some background and ideas. It’s at:

We hope that you can join us and guide the federal government towards a poverty reduction strategy that will work.

Looking forward to seeing you there!



“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” – Herman Melville

Parliamentary E-petition 959, which calls for national pharmacare during this federal government’s mandate

Circulated Petition –

From: “Morgan, Steve” <>

I am writing to ask you to consider signing and sharing Parliamentary E-petition 959, which calls for national pharmacare during this federal government’s mandate. As you know, pharmacare in Canada can and should be a public drug plan that is universal, comprehensive, evidence-based, and sustainable.

This is not my petition, but it is important to get behind it. That is because the federal government might interpret a lack of signatures as a lack of public interest — even though national polling data and the Citizens’ Reference Panel on Pharmacare in Canada show that a vast majority of Canadians support universal pharmacare!

As published in the Toronto Star today, here are my four main reasons why pharmacare is important enough to act on. Please feel free to share this widely.

  1. Access to essential medicines is a human right

The most important reason for universal pharmacare in Canada is that access to essential medicines is actually a human right according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recommends that countries protect that right in law and with pharmaceutical policies that work in conjunction with their broader systems of universal health coverage. Consistent with this, every other high-income country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of prescription drugs. It is time Canada did the same.

  1. Universal pharmacare would save lives

Canada’s patchwork of private and public drug plans leaves millions of Canadians without coverage. As a result, Canadians are three to five times more likely to skip prescriptions because of cost than are residents of comparable countries with universal pharmacare programs. A 2012 study estimated that inequities in drug coverage for working-age Ontarians with diabetes were associated with 5,000 deaths between 2002 and 2008. Nationally, this human toll would be equivalent to a major aviation disaster happening several times per year.

  1. Universal pharmacare would save money

Canadians spend 50 percent more per capita on pharmaceuticals than residents of the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand and several other countries with universal pharmacare programs. This amounts to spending $12 billion more each year and still not having universal drug coverage. Why? Because the universal pharmacare programs in other countries use their purchasing power to obtain better drug prices than our fractured system. Among many examples of such price differences, a year’s supply of atorvastatin, a widely used cholesterol drug, costs about $143 in Canada but only $27 in the United Kingdom and Sweden, and under $15 in New Zealand.

  1. Universal pharmacare would help Canadian businesses

The rising cost of pharmaceuticals are a growing burden on Canadian businesses. Part of the problem is that Canadian employers waste between $3 billion and $5 billion per year because employment-related private insurance is ill equipped to manage pharmaceutical costs effectively. Another part of the problem is that the number of prescription drugs costing more than $10,000 per year has grown almost ten-fold in the past decade. Because such costs can quickly render a work-related health plan unsustainable — particularly for small businesses — it is best to manage them at a province- or nation-wide basis.

Nevertheless, universal pharmacare will not happen unless citizens speak up

Billions of dollars in savings to Canadian taxpayers, employers and households equals billions of dollars of lost revenues to pharmaceutical industry stakeholders. Those stakeholders will not make it easy for government to implement universal pharmacare, no matter the benefit to Canadians and the broader economy.

To make pharmacare a reality for Canada, citizens need to get informed and involved. If they support the idea of universal, public pharmacare, they need to let others, particularly elected officials and political candidates, know they care and that they will support a government that takes action.

So, please, take the time to sign Parliamentary E-petition 959 and to share this with your colleagues, friends, and family.

Thank you!

Respectfully yours,

Steve Morgan PhD

Professor | Faculty of Medicine | School of Population and Public Health

The University of British Columbia | Vancouver Campus

Email: | Web:  |  Twitter: @SteveUBC

“Every other developed country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of prescription drugs … so should Canada!”

Ontario Budget 2017: ISAC response and analysis

More than 930,000 Ontarians continue to wait for incomes that give health and dignity: Other announcements bring much-needed change

Ontario’s 2017 Budget does very little to address the deep poverty experienced by people relying on support from Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), particularly those without other sources of income.

The Budget does make meaningful and substantial change to OW and ODSP rules around asset and gift exemptions, and significant increases to allowances for people in remote northern communities, all of which are welcome improvements.

As well, the Budget reiterates government’s commitment to income security reform, signalling the importance of the upcoming report from the Income Security Reform Working Group.

The Budget’s signature program announcement, prescription drug coverage for all Ontarians aged 24 years and under, makes major progress on expanding drug coverage beyond seniors and those receiving social assistance.

And while advocates are looking forward to comprehensive change to Ontario’s labour laws in the upcoming Changing Workplaces Review report, no new investments have yet been made in employment standards enforcement.

more follow below

Source: Ontario Budget 2017: ISAC response and analysis

Community Social Enterprise, building the evidence of benefits for recovery, wellness and citizenship

See this CMAJ article “Action on the social determinants of health through social enterprise”


Recent attention to the role that social entrepreneurship could play in addressing acute health care challenges1 reminds us that addressing the socioenvironmental factors that influence the physical, mental, social and spiritual components of health and well-being2 requires similarly innovative and imaginative responses. Social enterprises are a potentially useful and economically viable strategy to this end. These are organizations that engage in commercial trade for a social purpose — most often to address one or more aspects of social vulnerability — rather than for the personal financial enrichment of owners or shareholders.  …

please see the article

by 1. Michael J. Roy, PhD Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK; Rosemary Lysaght, PhD, and Terry M. Krupa, PhD  School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont.


“Internet health as a social issue”

CBC’s SPARK, explores how the internet is now part of our… ecology , making me think we need to add it to our efforts to advance the social determinants of health for the people we work with.

“The internet is so critical to human life and the economy and society right now, that its impact is as significant as the environment,”

It may seem strange to think of the “health” of the internet.

But what if we started thinking about caring for the internet, collectively, in order for it to keep working properly?

“The health of the internet is something that we think needs to be a mainstream social issue just like the environment or education.”

Mark Surman is the Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit dedicated to an open internet.

352 Mark Surman

Mark Surman (Mozilla)

Mark likens it to the time just before the environmental movement began to take hold:

See the article here:…cial-issue-1.4053202


” Do not be lulled to sleep by a government labelled NDP, or socialist, or social democratic”

Reuel Amdur shared his article in The Canadian Charger on his experience in Social Welfare implementing Ontario NDP policy.  

Some comments on the article were made on the Ottawa Homeless List Serve shared other perspectives of what was/is in play for government by Alan Moschovich and Marlene Koehler.


Ontario’s NDP Government: A Sad History

Reuel S. Amdur

More by this author…

The current official abandonment by political parties of concern for the poor, in their focus on “the middle class,” calls to mind the Ontario NDP’s disregard for the poor going back to the days when they were in power, from 1990 to 1995. At the time, I was working first at Seaton House, a men’s shelter and residence operated by Toronto’s welfare department, and then as a supervisor in Ottawa’s welfare department.

When Bob Rae’s NDP government was elected, those of us concerned about the poor thought we had died and gone to heaven.  Not.  Under Rae the poor endured one blow after another.  Prior to the Rae election, each December there was provision for a token amount added to the check as a Christmas bonus.  During Bob Rae’s term in office, the Christmas bonus was abolished across the province.

As far as rates are concerned, prior to the Rae régime, each year it was practice to increase rates in recognition of changes in the cost of living.  Rae interrupted that practice.

Then there is the matter of a form colloquially referred to as the layman’s medical.  This was a form that a welfare worker could fill out in aid of a client applying for disability benefits.  I remember being in a meeting with a physician who was on the Ottawa board which determined eligibility for such benefits.  He waxed enthusiastic about layman’s medical forms completed by Holly Murphy, an Ottawa welfare worker.  The form was the only designated input by the welfare worker about the condition of the client seeking designation as disabled.  The doctor’s comment was an indication of its potential impact, but the Rae government abolished it.  It became that much harder for someone to get the higher disability rate of assistance.

Rae’s government also hit welfare recipients with cars.  They were allowed to have a car so long as its value was not greater than $5,000.  ($10,000 is the current limit.)  Welfare offices all began buying automotive red books, to determine the value of cars.  The regulation went on to specify what would happen if someone showed up with a car worth more than $5,000.  The person was given six months to dispose of the car.  In fact, burdened by a rule book bigger than the phone book, workers frequently failed to apply the regulation.  In her book Hope and Despair, Monia Mazigh describes her experiences in applying for welfare while she had a car.  The first time, she was told that she was not eligible till she got rid of the car.  The second time the worker ignored the car and put her on assistance.  There was a complicating factor that was never raised with welfare: it was not her car.  It was her husband’s, Maher Arar, who was in a Syrian prison at the time.  Fun and games with a stupid regulation.  The regulation is still in effect.

Sponsored immigrants were a special target.  If a person applied for assistance because of a sponsorship breakdown, the immigrant’s assistance was dinged $50 a month.  There were a few exceptions, but, for example, if the sponsor had left the country the deduction still applied.  Fortunately, this regulation is now unpleasant history.

Another measure applied to new applicants for assistance.  While the rules for the amount that recipients may keep from any earnings on welfare vary from time to time, leaving recipients confused and fearful about any work, at one point the Rae government decreed that new applicants would be docked 100% of earnings for the first several months on assistance.  I remember one young man who had been on a federal make-work program in Kingston, silk-screening t-shirts.  He could not make a living at it and came to Ottawa and applied for welfare.  I told him about the rule.  He told me that he would not be looking for work for that period of time.

The sad experience with Ontario’s NDP government carries an important lesson.  Do not be lulled to sleep by a government labelled NDP, or socialist, or social democratic.  Assume that, whatever government is elected, it is the enemy.  Make it prove otherwise.

Comments from the list serve

Marlene Koehler 

My recollection was that the Rae government initially raised and then, faced with a continuing recession in which government workers had to forego some of their salary in “Rae days”, froze the social assistance rates.
And that it was the Mike Harris government that actually cut the rates – and significantly: .
I’m not sure whether you’re recommending Ontario keep its Liberal government, which has slowly liberalized some benefits (particularly work incentives). Or just demonstrating the importance of getting social democrats to commit to better reforms and holding them to account.
Alan Moscovitch
The history of what occurred in the support of people who were in need of social assistance during the Rae years was much more complex than can be or is presented by Reuel in this short piece. In the early months of the Rae government there was a window open for reform and many changes made were very positive. Then the window closed when the impact of the FTA and NAFTA hit Ontario, unemployment rose dramatically, government revenues fell and expenditures rose, creating a rapidly expanding deficit. Further, the Federal government limited funding for social assistance and social services under the CAP. By the time CAP was abolished in 1996, federal funding had dropped from 50% to less than 30%, an enormous impact during what was a federal government generated recession when social assistance was unfortunately becoming the biggest business in the province. Provincial finances went south rapidly, but even then the Rae government did continue to increase social assistance rates until the dependency rate (% of the population dependent on social assistance) reached levels not seen since the Depression. Nonetheless, there were opportunities for positive reform which were lost, so I do agree whole heartedly with the conclusion, that no government should be taken at its word alone. I am not sure that I would agree that every government is the enemy, but I do agree that governments that say they are intending to work according to social justice principles should be helped to it by an involved citizenry doing everything it can to push them in that direction. Everything from letter writing, phone calls, petitions, social media commentary to mass movements of people in the streets, all together play a role in influencing governments to act.