A demonstrator attends a downtown Windsor rally supporting $15/hr minimum wage in Canada. Photo taken April 15, 2016.

RNAO Says Higher Wages Can Buy Better Health

A proposed minimum wage hike is good for Ontario’s health, according to the president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

Carol Timmings says health outcomes are directly linked to income and a jump in wages would help keep people healthier, because they could afford more quality food and other things.

“People living in poverty are often the people with poorest health outcomes and they’re shouldering the burden of a lot of chronic health conditions because they don’t have adequate income, adequate housing, or adequate access to care,” says Timmings.”If people have adequate income, that’s the single greatest determinant of health because if you have adequate income then you can have adequate housing, you can have adequate access to food, transportation and all those broad determinants of how long you can stay healthy.”

If approved, the minimum wage in Ontario is going up to $14 an hour starting this January 1 and $15 an hour beginning New Year’s Day of 2019. Timmings is urging the province to focus on health promotion and disease prevention and a minimum wage increase would go a long way to achieving that.

“Vibrant, healthy people in their communities. That’s a key message to government. It’s all well and good to look at health care and we want that care to be there when residents need care but we also want to keep people healthy,” says Timmings.