Our mental health is influenced by many factors including life experiences, workplace or other environments, and the social and economic conditions that shape our lives. These social and economic conditions are called the social determinants of health and are some of the most important factors that impact on mental and physical health. Research shows that the social determinants can be more important than health care or lifestyle choices in influencing the health of individuals, families and communities. Access to economic resources, especially adequate income, is one of the key determinants of mental health. People with mental illness often live in chronic poverty. Conversely, poverty can be a significant risk factor for poor physical and mental health. CMHA Ontario has long supported measures that provide people with adequate incomes that lifts them out of poverty.
On August 21, 2018, the Government of Canada released Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy (“the Strategy”). The product of extensive consultations, Opportunity for All aims to “end poverty so that all Canadians can live with dignity, have real and fair access to opportunities to succeed, and be resilient enough to get through difficult times.” In creating this Strategy, the Government consulted broadly and took into consideration examples of other poverty reduction strategies across the country.
The Strategy also recognizes many complex and inter-related issues impacting on poverty, such as racism, discrimination (especially against Indigenous peoples and racialized women), disabilities and a lack of social inclusion.
The Strategy will establish the nation’s first official poverty line across Canada, used to measure progress toward two targets for poverty reduction:
- by 2020, reducing the poverty rate by 20% from its 2015 level; and
- by 2030, reducing the poverty rate by 50% from its 2015 level.