Feed Ontario, the provincial network of food banks, detailed these estimates and outlined a renewed approach to social assistance in The Cost of Poverty in Ontario, which builds upon its first provincial analysis on poverty released in 2008.
Feed Ontario says traditionally governments calculate costs associated with poverty as dollars spent on programs and services, which are often subject to government cuts. In The Cost of Poverty in Ontario, the organization considers the loss of tax revenue and increased health and justice system expenses that are incurred by maintaining people in poverty.
The report notes that poverty rates in Ontario have decreased since Feed Ontario’s first analysis, but income disparity, depth of poverty and the overall associated costs have increased. Further, the report says case studies demonstrate that investment in the well-being of vulnerable people improves quality of life for everyone and contributes to economic and social bottom lines.
Growing research suggests the primary factors that shape health and well-being are the social and economic conditions one experiences, commonly referred to as the social determinants of health. Among the most important social determinants of health for mental health are freedom from discrimination and violence, social inclusion, and access to economic resources.