The Northwestern Health Unit expects Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017) will lead to significantly improved health outcomes for many of its residents.
The board of health showed its support of the bill by passing a resolution at its Aug. 28 meeting commending the provincial government for taking steps to improve income levels and working conditions.
Decades of research shows people with lower incomes have poorer physical and mental health, and higher rates of mortality.
Bill 148, now under consideration by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, will lead to a $15/hour minimum wage in 2019, as well as other benefits.
It provides “important mechanisms that will contribute to substantial health benefits for individuals and communities in Northwestern Ontario and throughout the province,” said Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit.
“The research shows the poorer you are, the more likely you are to have health risks in your daily life, and have difficulties with accessing adequate healthy food or affordable safe housing,” Young-Hoon noted.
For too many, working full-time does not guarantee an income above the poverty line.
This may be a particular concern in Northwestern Ontario, where food costs are relatively high.
It's estimated the changes to the minimum wage outlined in Bill 148 will increase the wages of more than one-quarter of Ontario workers.
Many of those workers are more likely to be challenged with other social factors, such as low education, unstable employment, and inadequate housing.