The Current

Health & Wealth: Prescribing money to treat low-income patients

Dr. Gary Bloch blames poverty for the bad health of many of his patients -- so he treats poverty as an illness and prescribes... income.
Research shows actual medical care accounts for only about a quarter of health outcomes, while fully one-half of a person's ability to heal and recover is determined by socio-economics - income, education and living conditions. Today, our Project Money looks at the contagion called Poverty through the prism of doctors who have learned Incomes affect Outcomes.

I decided to treat poverty not as a social or moral issue, but as a disease to be diagnosed and treated like any other.Dr. Gary Bloch

The Good Shepherd Ministries in downtown Toronto is a place where the city's homeless can come to find food, shelter and other services.

Dr. Gary Bloch meets with some of the center's clients in the basement at the Good Shepherd Ministries.


Dr. Gary Bloch teaches medical residents
to weave in questions about income
when taking a patient's history. (CBC)

He runs a clinic there once a week, tending to the health of some of the most marginalized people in the city. Every day he sees how income - or lack of income - shapes a patient's health. And he has an idea about addressing these money problems.

Gary Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians' Committee on Poverty and Health.

As a doctor, here's why I'm prescribing tax returns. Seriously. By Gary Bloch -- The Globe & Mail

Dr. Julia Morinis is a pediatrician who also practices at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, as well as The Hospital for Sick Children.

They were in our Toronto studio.

Tomorrow, as part of our Project Money, we'll continue our look at the relationship between poverty and physical well being. We will speak with Sir Michael Marmot, known internationally for his work on how income correlates to health.

What do you think of these doctors and their unorthodox treatments? And, if there's been a time in your life when a lack of cash also played havoc with your health, please let us know.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

Other Stories from The Current Archives

A growing number of Canadians have no access to dental care

A special edition on Poverty in Canada with host Lorna Crozier


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?