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Poverty Reduction

The relationship between poverty and health

GASHA and the Community Health Boards recognize the relationship between poverty and health. The results of the Understanding Our Health Survey (2010), conducted by GASHA, show a clear relationship between income levels and prevalence of chronic conditions and food security as follows:

(A) Chronic Conditions and Income

  • In all three CHB areas, the prevalence of chronic conditions tends to be higher as household income decreases. For example, in the Strait Richmond CHB area, 96% of 50 respondents with incomes less than 20,000 reported they had at least one chronic condition compared to 67.2% of 81 respondents with incomes over $80,000 who reported having at least one chronic condition.

(B) Food Security

  • In all three CHB areas, respondents with an annual income of less than $20,000 were more likely to feel they often or sometimes did not have enough to eat when compared to respondents from the highest income categories.
  • In all three CHB areas, respondents with an annual income of less than $20,000 were more likely to indicate they often or sometimes experience food situation difficulties (couldn't afford balanced meals and food would run out) - 9-12% of 370 participants in Guysborough County; 11-12% of 376 respondents in Strait  Richmond; 8% of 375 respondents in Antigonish Town & County.
  • In all three CHB areas, the survey report notes that in terms of household income, respondents with household incomes of less than $20,000. were more likely to indicate they often or sometimes experience food situation difficulties when compared to respondents from all other income categories. 

In 2010, the Community Health Boards conducted an extensive community consultation process that involved 40 focus groups with 344 participants. In all three CHB areas, focus group participants identified poverty as a factor affecting health and also linked to a number of other factors as follows:

  • Food security and ability to buy nutritious food;
  • Ability to access to services due to lack of transportation, especially in rural areas;
  • Adequate and affordable housing;
  • Ability to access recreation opportunities;
  • Ability to participate in programs due to cost barriers;
  • Access to prescriptions due to costs.

In their community health plan (2011-14), the Community Health Board identified "addressing inequities" as a strategic direction noting, "This strategic direction focuses on the need to address inequities associated with poverty, racism, and social exclusion, in order to ensure that all populations have access to quality health services; and, in the long term, to improve health outcomes in the district."

GASHA and the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board are currently involved in the Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition.

Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition

The Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition is a broad-based alliance of individuals, groups, and organizations in Antigonish concerned with poverty reduction and alleviation. Founding coalition members include the Sisters of St. Martha's Social Justice Committee, the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre, the Antigonish Food Security Coalition, the St. James United Church Social Justice Committee and the Fresh Air Society.

The coalition is currently involved in a concerted one-year initiative to bring together a cross-sector of organizations in the Antigonish Town and County community who are concerned with poverty to develop a comprehensive plan (a "greenprint") for addressing poverty in Antigonish. The greenprint will include a 5 year action plan with a mechanism for reporting to the larger community.

To learn more

Contact: Paula Cameron at 863-6221, ext. 225, or