Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 16:12:05 -0600 (CST)
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Canada: MDs prescribe better pay for the poor
Article: 46947
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** 208.0 **/
** Topic: Pushing For Increased Wages In Healthcare **
** Written 4:27 PM Nov 1, 1998 by labornews in **
/* Written 11:54 AM Nov 1, 1998 by in igc:bitl.pen */
/* ---------- [PEN-L:793] Income disparities and ---------- */

MDs prescribe better pay for the poor

By Catherine Mitchell, Winnepeg Free Press 30 October 1998

Meagre wages linked to lousy health, medical officers tell review board

Manitoba's medical officers of health are pusing the province to raise the minimum wage, saying the current rate contributes to the depressed health status of the working poor.

Raising the minimum wage is as important to community health as inoculating people against diseases such as hepatitis B and influenza, said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for the Burntwood and Thopson regions. [i.e. northern Manitoba]

Sutcliff, her 13 colleagues and four residents in training signed a submission to the minimum wage review board outlining the numberous studies that show the gap between the rich and the poor directly impacts the well-being of those at the bottom of the income scale.

It is the first time the doctors, employees of various levels of government, have spoken out as a group about the wage level, she said.

The submission says the wage, as soon as possible, should be raised, incrementally, to meet the low income cutoff for a single person. That cutoff -- considered the level at which a person spends about 54 per cent of their income on basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing -- is $7.85 and hour for the city of Winnipeg, Sutcliffe said.

She said the doctors felt compelled to voice their opinion given the weight of evidence documented in recent years relating income to population health.

The doctorssubmission cites almost 40 studies and reports that indicate, generally, that the poor and working poor suffer from more diesease and ill health. It also outlines research that found that much the same as poverty and unemployment, the distribution of society's wealth affects health and well-being.

It is the job of medical officersto promote, preserve and protect the health of Manitobans,and speaking about income disparity is part of that responsibility, Sutcliffe said.

Certainly its's just as important as a hepatitis B campaign, Sutcliffe said.

I agree with her and maybe it (minimum wage) is more important,said Joel Kettner, medical officer of health for the Winnipeg Community and Longterm Care Authority.

If we can resolve the problems of inequity in income and social status we'll go an enormous way to solving our health problems.

The doctors stressed raising the wage obviously would not alone address the health issues of the poor, but it would definitely help.