We have known for twenty-five years that neo-conservative economic policies produce extreme income inequality. Now a report by the Canadian Medical Association makes clear that the same policies have led to health inequality. The CBC reports that :
The gap in self-reported health status between income groups seems to be growing, with 39 per cent of those whose households earned less than $30,000 a year describing their health as excellent or very good compared with 68 per cent of those earning $60,000 or more.
"When it comes to the well-being of Canadians, the old saying that wealth equals health continues to ring true," Dr. John Haggie, president of the CMA, said in a release.
"What is particularly worrisome for Canada's doctors is that in a nation as prosperous as Canada, the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' appears to be widening."
The late Tommy Douglas discovered as a child that the wealthy had much better health care than the poor. It was the gap in care which energized his commitment to public health care in Saskatchewan and eventually every province in Canada.
We have known for a long time that wealth buys better health. But we have assumed that Medicare solved that problem. The truth is that, as wealth has trickled up to the top, the poor have paid a medical price:
Those with the lowest incomes were also more likely to report being diagnosed with a chronic condition, 41 per cent, than those with household incomes of $60,000 or more, 28 per cent.
Everyday, in every way, life gets better for the wealthy. But, for the vast majority of Canadians, it gets worse.