Currently there are many problems and flaws with the way the Canadian government’s policies deal with healthcare, income inequality and poverty. Time to time changes in policies have been made, perhaps to improve these issues, however, the gap between rich and poor keeps increasing and there is very little improvement in healthcare and the economy. In fact, healthcare keeps on becoming costly. Major issues like income inequality and poverty are not being taken care of by the government. According to Dr. Raphael (2002) poverty is caused by several reasons such as inequality in people’s income, weak social services and lack of other social supports (p. VI). He states, “Poverty directly harms the health of those with low incomes while income inequality affects the health of all Canadians through the weakening of social infrastructure and the destruction of social cohesion. ”(Raphael, 2002, p. VI)
Income inequality and poverty are interrelated with the way government structures policy decisions in its social and economic sphere (Raphael, 2002, p. VI). Dr. Raphael (2002) also claims that the health effects of poverty is strongly related to income inequality and poverty because societies that has high levels of poverty is bound to be economically unequal (p. 4). Canada’s government policies are inefficient in preventing income inequality and poverty. We do not get to see the whole picture as to how the Canadian government ignores and/or fails to provide services in all parts of Canada who requires improvement of healthcare, prevent income inequality and poverty. People who are living in urban areas are extensively lacking access to healthcare.
The population in rural areas of Canada are lower than the population in urban areas. As a result, the government provides less healthcare in rural, northern and remote areas (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. III). I believe government is able to do this because people in cities knows less and/or cares less about people living in rural and remote areas. And perhaps government purposely ignores these people in rural areas. For decades aboriginal people living in these areas has been deprived of their rights whether it was healthcare, social assistance, jobs and access to daily needs and services.
These aboriginal people often face issues such as poverty and occupational hazards (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. III). The reason these problems occur is because government policies are not implemented properly in these areas and the health care professionals in these areas are also not trained properly and there are less staff members workings at these rural areas (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. V). There are shortages of doctors and nurses. There is less community health services in these areas. Also these areas are purposely given less funding by government and private organizations (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. V). The reports are not being prepared accurately for these areas and government does not make enough efforts to evaluate these reports properly (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. V). Some of the major healthcare services are lacking, such as major trauma, mental health services, palliative care, aged care, dental health services and children with special needs. In most areas these services are not offered and sometimes culturally and linguistically they are not available (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. V).
This means that in many cases a patient has to travel a great distance in order to get these services and this means spending a great deal of money from their own pocket and if they do not have it, they have no choice but to receive no services or care (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. 25). Also women’s healthcare is a significant issue in rural areas. They have difficulties with giving births as there are not enough medically trained doctors for deliveries in rural areas (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. 25).
They often rely on family physicians and physicians trained in anaesthesiology to have deliveries done. Also there has been many closers of hospitals in these rural areas. As a result, now women too have to travel a great distance to have their deliveries done by a professional. Some women have to reach cities 1 month prior to their delivery and pay all their own expenses (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. 25) Because of all these hospital closures and reduced services now there are problems with surgical procedures and pharmacists.
Most of the doctors and pharmacists does not stay long in these areas. They leave the community and return to cities (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. 26) Also these rural areas do not receive much care for alcohol problems and HIV/AIDS. These services are poorly served. Aboriginals are also not given proper education in how to prevent these diseases (Hay, Varga-Toth, Hines, 2006, p. 26). These are some major issues that government fails to address or as it seems they choose purposely to ignore because these issues has been going on for decades.
The government should be a bit responsible with making better policies and taking expert advices constantly to improve the policies. That is why we pay high taxes and high price for goods and services, so that the government should be always on their toe and working hard to make sure we get better and efficient policies. Policies that would help reduce inequalities and poverty in Canada. There are problems in cities too regarding healthcare access. Access such as emergency services, diagnostic equipment and medical specialist are problematic (Soroka, 2007, p. 15). Wait times get longer and longer each year (Soroka, 2007, p. 5). For example, a 50 year old women would have to wait 6 months for her biopsy, a 65 year old man who needs hip replacement has to wait 6-12 months for the surgery (Soroka, 2007, p. 15). There are also delays and lack of service for home care for senior citizens and elderly mentally challenged people. According to author Soroka (2007) 87 percent Canadians claim that there is a great amount of lacking in the number of doctors and nurses (p. 16). This happens because government is failing to provide more money to hire more doctors and nurses (Soroka, 2007, p. 16).
Yet, the government brings in many immigrant doctors and nurses based on their education who still can not find a job in Canada. So it seems that even when there is qualified doctors and nurses available, they government is failing or not investing enough amount of money to hire them. According to Green and Milligan (2007) the gap between Canada’s rich and poor has increased significantly from year 1980 to 2000 (p. 3). The study shows that rich and poor are heading in different directions at an extreme level where the top 1% earners and CEOs only getting richer while middle and the poor only gets poorer (Green & Milligan, 2007, P. ). As an example Green and Milligan (2007) shows that during 1980 to 2000 top 5% Canadian earners earned about $121,260 disposable income where as the bottom 5% families had only $3,104 as disposable income (p. 3). This means that the top earners had 39 times higher income bottom 5% earners (Green & Milligan, 2007, p. 3). The study suggests that the Canadian government’s used income tax policies in order to widen this gap of inequality between rich and poor (Green & Milligan, 2007, p. 4).
Green and Milligan (2007) states, “In 2000, the top 10% of income earners had a disposable income of approximately $97,000. That’s 16 times more than the average of $5,900 earned by the bottom 10% of income earners. ”(P. 7) While top earners income rose, the bottom earners income remained the same (Green & Milligan, 2007, p. 7). Also in a Globe & Mail newspaper article author Tavia Grant (2008) points out that an average earner in the year 2005 earned about $41,401 which is almost the same as an average earner 1980 who earned $41,348 (p. 2).
Therefore, it is evident that the poor and less advantaged are being kept at the same level of income and resources, while expenses and prices of goods and services has always gone up. As a result, it is the middle and the poor class who suffers by paying the price unfairly, because their income never increase and also their income stayed at the same level for 20 years. According to Grant (2008) 11. 4 percent lives below low income which is considered a poverty line (p. 3). Also immigrants in Canada earn way less then a Canadian born worker.
Statistics show that immigrant men earned 63 cents for each dollar a Canadian-born worker earns (Grant, 2008, p. 3). In general, women earn about 85 cents for every dollar men earn (Grant, 2008, p. 3). Lower income deprives basic needs of human life, it leads to depression and it also leads to poverty sometimes. According to Mikkonen & Raphael (2010) Canada’s richest neighbourhood’s residents on average, live four years more than the poorest neighbourhood (p. 12). Their study finds that the most deprived Canadians had 28% higher death rates than the least deprived Canadians.
Also health issues are a major concern because the poor has far more health issues like heart attacks and diabetes (Mikkonen & Raphael, 2010, p. 12). They lack resource and information. The poorest neighbourhoods also have a much higher suicide rate (Mikkonen & Raphael, 2010, p. 12). Therefore, in Canada it is evident that income inequality is not being addressed by government policies, it is depriving and affecting the poor and the immigrants, and it is also making them vulnerable where it becomes really difficult to climb out of their situation.
Sweden’s government has a different policy for income inequality and poverty. As author Palme (2006) indicates that Sweden’s government is doing well in promoting reduction in poverty and inequality (P. 16). Swedish government has a universal model of social protection. This social protection plan reaches out to venerable people in both rural and urban areas. This plan protects women’s labour force, aging population, all kinds of workers and salary based employees (Palme, 2006, p. 16). The plan also combines both public and private sector where improvement is necessary. There are three basic parts o this program. First, family support and old-age pension program which comes under citizenship benefits. Secondly, for different sectors of society there is a universal scheme which is the social earning insurance. Finally, there is housing benefits and social assistance in which income is verified and tested for families with elders and children (Palme, 2006, p. 16). By using these tactics the Swedish government has been successful in reducing overall inequalities to some extent (Palme, 2006, p. 16). Our government has somewhat similar policies for social services and assistance.
However, Sweden pushes the boundaries in making the policies better and providing better services to its citizen. Perhaps Canadian government should also look to other countries and/or advices, it does not have to be Sweden, but they should at least try and find different policies that works better for Canadians. One of the major crisis that the Canadian middle and the working class is facing today is coming out of the 2008 world wide recession. Minimum wage is still very low compared to the rising prices of goods and expenses. During the recession people lost jobs, hours were cut and a lot of people were laid off.
In order to survive and pay their bills, a lot of low income Canadians had no choice but to borrow and acquire huge amounts of debts. However, most of the top earners and CEOs kept the same paycheques that they were earning before the recession, while the working class took and are still taking most of the financial blow (CBC News, 2011). This makes their lives even more difficult. Therefore, much of countries capital money is circulating at the top, the vast middle and working class does not have the purchasing power to keep the economy flowing. For a short term goal I would like to propose ‘tax reforms’.
Tax reforms that is going to reduce taxes for middle and the working class. Also provide a wage support. Increase marginal income tax on the top earners and limit their earnings. There are a lot of elites and CEOs in Canada who are fortunate and skilled enough to earn a very high income. For example, if someone is earning $500, 000 or $5 million a year then they should pay much higher income tax than what they are paying now. Their tax money should be used not only to evenly distribute, but they should be used to better health services, education, social services and transportation.
This way it will not only circulate the money back to middle and working class but it will also help families and individual advance in their life. This helps society as a whole. There are several reasons why government should accept my policy rather than accepting others policies. It is common sense that first and the most important basic need for human is being stable mentally and physically. To maintain this stability you need food, shelter, health, clothing and most importantly education.
When people are deprived of these basic needs because of poverty or less income, then the outcome might only be negative consequences and there also might be a social crisis. A society cannot function and/or improve without meeting these basic needs. A society also cannot improve without better education, better healthcare and better social assistances. Therefore, government of Canada should look to invest in poor and hard working people with low income, by providing their basic needs and by educating them in different areas of the policies we have and how to get help from different social assistance programs.
Perhaps the government should also take public opinions, discussions and ideas into consideration while making major decisions and policies because it’s the people’s problems that they need to address and the only way to address them is to find out first hand what the real problems are, and what are the best means by which the government can provide efficient and helpful service to the public.
The government should also improve income distribution and tax policies. I believe there is no better investment than investing in every person in society and government should focus on improving human capital. In the long run, investing in improvement of human capital improves society and mankind as a whole.