Health board expected to decide today if it will purchase a building to serve as a hospice.

Low income people in Saskatoon are sicker, and die younger than their more affluent neighbours, according to a new study released this week by the Saskatoon Health Region.

'There is institutionalized and systemic racism that's in place' - Dr. Cory Neudorf

This latest research follows up and refines a ground breaking study that found a significant health gap between rich and poor sections of the city. 

What’s troubling for officials like Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Cory Neudorf is that after much effort the health gap remains persistent, and in some cases, is actually widening.

"You know if society is measured by how we treat our most vulnerable we should be trying to make sure we don't leave people behind as we increase prosperity in our province,” said Neudorf.

One area that’s slipping is age expectancy, a key benchmark statistic that serves as a good overall gauge to measure the general health status of a population.

In Saskatoon, the least affluent residents will die nine years earlier than the most affluent citizens.

Neudorf said that a big challenging in trying to close the health gap between rich and poor in the city is finding culturally sensitive ways to reach out and meet the needs of the urban aboriginal population, and Saskatoon’s growing population of new immigrants.

"There is institutionalized and systemic racism that's in place. That contributes to inequitable access and outcomes in services."

Neudorf believes that closing the gap will take investment on all levels, not just in health care but in areas like housing and education.

The Saskatoon Health Region will work over the next few months to develop an action plan to try to improve the quality of life for people struggling with the effects of poverty.