Economic crisis harms health

Health, as well as wealth, is taking a beating in the current economic crisis. A Canadian Medical Association survey, reported on August 17, shows that while 57 per cent of Canadians are worried about their financial security, nearly an equal number, 52 per cent, worried about their health.

The poll found many Canadians, especially those in lower income brackets, are cutting corners on health spending to make ends meet.

Specifically: 32 per cent said they are spending less money on food; 25 per cent said they cancelled or delayed a dental appointment; 23 per cent reported sleeping less than normal due to financial anxiety; 22 per cent said they had cut recreation or sporting activities to pinch pennies; 16 per cent admitted to skipping meals; 14 per cent said they had delayed or stopped buying their prescription medications for lack of funds; ten per cent indicated they cancelled or delayed a doctor’s appointment.

In every example, the less household income, the less education a person has, the harder hit s/he appears to be. For example, 28 per cent of those with annual income under $30,000 said they had skipped meals, compared to 8 per cent of those with family income above $90,000.

The poll, exposing the links between the economic depression and health, was conducted by Ipsos- Reid, which surveyed 3,223 adults online between June 25 and July 11.

While the Canadian Medicare system covers all citizens and permanent residents, it does not include prescription drugs, dental procedures, visual or hearing aids, and a growing list of treatments and services. Clearly, now is the time to expand medicare, not starve it through inadequate funding and cuts that promote the not-so-hidden corporate/capitalist government agenda of privatization. – Barry Weisleder