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Canada NDP scores high marks in report on poverty-related health issues

11:51  03 june  2018
11:51  03 june  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats earned a B+ — the highest grade among the four parties — in a report card from Health Providers Against Poverty.© Galit Rodan Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats earned a B+ — the highest grade among the four parties — in a report card from Health Providers Against Poverty.

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The New Democrats earned a B+ in the Health Providers Against Poverty election report card, while the Green Party of Ontario was given a C+ and the Liberals a D+. The Progressive Conservatives received a failing grade because their platform met “only a small proportion” of the authors’ criteria. The report was initially released last week and then updated over the weekend to accommodate the late-arriving PC platform.

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The report focused on five areas the organization says “significantly impact and influence physical and mental health outcomes”: Indigenous rights, poverty and income security, work and employment conditions, affordable housing, and health and social services.

The group graded each party’s platform against publicly available research and recommendations by advocacy organizations working in the five areas.

“For us the provincial election was a great time to raise awareness about the health impacts of poverty and to engage in public discussion around the issues,” said Dr. Alissa Tedesco, one of the organization’s co-chairs and a family medicine resident at the University of Toronto.

Tedesco said in most election campaigns the conversations around health care tend to focus on issues such as hospital beds and wait times, which are important but don’t necessarily address some of the root causes and risk factors of poor health.

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“I think the report was really to shift the focus to the upstream factors that we know affect the health of Ontarians,” she said. “Some of the priorities that we addressed in the report card are things that people don’t often recognize have impacts on health.”

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The group argues in its report that eliminating poverty also makes fiscal sense in terms of reducing health-care costs, citing a separate report that found poverty costs Ontario more than $30 billion per year in preventable expenses.

The NDP’s platform received nearly perfect marks in the areas of Indigenous rights, poverty and income security, and health and social services, while no party did particularly well in the category of work and employment conditions.

Tedesco said the PCs still received a failing grade even after releasing their platform because it is “quite brief and lacks detail in a lot of areas.”

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“The information they did provide did little to address our criteria,” she said. “In the few areas they did address, commitments were vague.”

Tedesco said her organization is non-partisan and does not receive funding from any of the parties. She said they used strict criteria and a clear methodology so it would be easy to see how party platforms were graded against each other. To reduce the potential for bias, the report’s authors did not “read between the lines” of party platforms, focusing strictly on specific and tangible promises.

“The report isn’t to endorse one party or candidate,” Tedesco said, “but just to educate all readers on the links of these factors with respect to health to help to inform their decisions around which candidate they’re going to choose to support.”

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