Income inequality is literally killing people says report

Canadians on lower incomes are more likely to die prematurely despite mortality rates generally trending lower

Income inequality is literally killing people says report
Steve Randall

The gap between rich and poor has been highlighted in a new report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The research shows that income inequalities in premature deaths in Canada have increased over the past 25 years. For example, men in the lowest income group were 110% more likely to die prematurely than their richer counterparts in 1991 and they were 180% more likely to die prematurely in 2016. 

For women, the rate doubled over the same time period, from 70% in 1991 to 150% in 2016.

"Although premature mortality rates have declined over time in Canada, those with lower levels of income and education have not benefitted equally from these overall improvements," says Dr. Faraz Vahid Shahidi, Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, with coauthors. "As a result of these uneven gains, socioeconomic inequalities in premature mortality have increased in Canada."

International issue
The problem is not just evident in Canada with researchers noting their study’s consistency with similar research in the US and Europe.

"We believe that health inequalities are getting worse because underlying social and economic inequalities are getting worse," says Dr. Shahidi. "To resolve health inequalities, governments should pursue policies that will reduce the extent of social and economic inequality in our society, such as raising the minimum wage, improving job security, increasing social assistance rates, and improving access to benefits such as Employment Insurance."