Community forum links basic income and children's health in P.E.I

A community forum to mark International Children's Day will aim to look at the links between poverty, income and child health on P.E.I on Nov. 20.

The forum, Children's Health in P.E.I. — What does it have to do with income?, will be hosted by the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income in partnership with the Public Health Association of New Brunswick and P.E.I.

No doubt

The Cooper Institute is one of the founding organizations of the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income.

"Children don't live in poverty by themselves. Their families are living in poverty," said Marie Burge, project co-ordinator with the Cooper Institute.

Burge said, there is no doubt that there is relationship between poverty and the health of a person.

The main speaker at the forum will be P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison who will be talking about a report released in 2017 about child poverty.

Shutterstock/Costea Andrea M

Calls to action

The report, titled, Children's Report 2017: Investing in our Future indicates that certain risk factors and health outcomes for Island children follow the same pattern as the general population, as reported in the 2016 report Health for All Islanders.

The report was the first of its kind in P.E.I. and found health inequity among Island children, with those from families with low income, higher rates of unemployment and fewer supports having more risk factors and poorer health outcomes than children living in families with greater privilege.

Guaranteed income

There were two main calls to action from the report:

1. For individuals, community groups, and all levels of government to address health inequity by redistributing societal resources to improve the social determinants of health, particularly for disadvantaged groups.

2. For improved surveillance and responsive environments since the ability to collect and share meaningful data is essential for making decisions that will support children now and in the future.

"It's really clear, it's really expensive in the health-care system to be poor. The poorer you are the more you use the health system," said Burge.

Potential solutions

In an effort to curb the high rate of child poverty on the Island, Burge said, guaranteed income could be the solution.

"I have great hopes that the people who show up will understand what the difference is between increasing people's income a little bit at a time and actually confronting the problem, that people have a right to an income so that their life can be a decent life," she said.

The forum will open the floor to discussion on potential strategies and solutions to combat the issue of child poverty.

The forum takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:30 at Trinity United Church Hall in Charlottetown. All Islanders are welcome.

More P.E.I. news 

With files by Angela Walker