Social Groups that are over-represented among Canadians living in poverty




The health status of people is a crucial determinant of growth and development in the economy. It is a broad concept that requires careful analysis since it is difficult and cumbersome to capture with a single measure. There are various indicators of health status such as symptoms, risk factors and outcome in the economy that require analysis to achieve the correct health description of the population. Therefore, the health situation of the population is the result of many factors in the economy. The implementation of the population health approach helps in widening the framework for understanding the reason that results in the different health status of the population. Health organizations provide uniform and equitable access to health services, but everyone does not achieve good health. Thus, health indicators show significant disparities among social groups regarding gender differences, demographic factors, socioeconomic factors and geographical location.

Poverty remains a severe challenge where there is inequality opportunity to those stricken. The paper comprehensively analysis and evaluates the social groups among the Canadians who live in poverty that diminish their health status. It is estimated the vulnerable groups to poverty include people with disabilities, single mothers, Aboriginals, and immigrants.

Economic and social inequalities in Canada

Economic and social drivers such as education and income influence the health status of individuals. Social inequality and income inequality in Canada keep on increasing for the last decades. The economic and social inequality has profound implication for the environmental sustainability and social well-being of the Canadians. The economic stability, performance and the health status at the national level are also affected by the economic and social inequality. A fair society calls upon freedom from discrimination of people by gender, race or religion and provision of equal participation in the community (Gushulak, Pottie, Roberts, Torres & DesMeules, 2011). Extreme economic inequality in Canada undermines equal development opportunities to the population and also deprives individual freedom due to significant imbalances of power that arise. The market in Canada poses a threat by generating large inequalities of income and wealth, reducing opportunities for achieving the moral goals of equal chances in life. Economic inequality is thus described as the differences that results between the top, middle and the bottom individuals in the society who share financial resources.

In Canada, social programs, investments in the public sector and a steady growth of the middle class of people assisted in narrowing down economic inequality. However, income disparities increased, resulting in high levels of inequalities and great poverty levels. It affected the legitimate expectation of the Canadians, especially the marginalized groups. The Aboriginal people, especially the women, earned little income when compared to men. The income and the wealth gap showed the primary economic disparities that are defined by gender and race. The single parent families and single women among the Aboriginal are more vulnerable to poverty. Other married Aboriginal women have precarious jobs and remain dependent on their men. The Aboriginal Canadians do badly in the job market due to the failure of recognizing them in education, credentials, and outright discrimination. The social norms and culture also affect the social inequality of the Canadians. Therefore, the health status of the Aboriginal Canadians diminishes due to poverty that is encouraged by economic and social inequalities.

Social change also has resulted in an increased population of the Aboriginal Canadians increasing child poverty that facilitates inadequate child care. The child poverty in Canada as a result of economic and social inequalities affects their health status. The Aboriginal families lack adequate materials for easier living conditions and opportunities for secure health care due to low income of their parents. Poverty affects the health care at a young age and as adults. A good environment reduces obesity and disease in the early childhood development thus influencing health. Early childhood development is an important social factor that affects health status (Elani, Harper, Allison, Bedos & Kaufman, 2012).

Societal structure determines health through the allocation of the public goods and the resources (Gushulak, Pottie, Roberts, Torres & DesMeules, 2011). The unequal distribution of the goods encourages poverty for some people who are not able to access medical care. On the other hand, education and social networking to culture help in protecting against the health effects of living. The non-Aboriginals had more access to education than the Aboriginals improving their health care since they had more information on how to take care to prevent diseases.

Health disparities associated with the Aboriginal Canadians

Health disparities are indicators of the disproportionate burden of disease in a certain population (Wang, Schmitz & Dewa, 2010). Health disparities are associated with the economic, political, social, and cultural inequalities. Therefore, they result in an uneven burden of health status and human distress of the Aboriginal population in Canada. Most health disparities in Canada exist between the Aboriginals and the rest of the population. There are a high rate of suicide, and injury to the Aboriginals. Their life expectancy is short. Their age-standardized death rate of the Aboriginals is greater than that of other Canadians. The First Nations experienced high rates of substance abuse, inadequate sewage disposal and overcrowded houses that increased the risk of dangerous diseases.

Health differences in Canada are evident in situations such as hospital stays, illness, death, child abuse, and school achievements. Poor children, especially the Aboriginal children have high incidences of health-related problems. Socioeconomic disparities are measures of the chronic stress among the Aboriginal parents living in the substandard housing and unfriendly neighbors. The off-reserve Aboriginal experienced inadequate access to health education, higher rates of smoking and drinking that encouraged obesity and lower rates of physical activity when compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Additionally, the First Nation males were more affected by their health condition than the First Nation females. The major causes of diseases resulted due to circulatory diseases, injuries, and poisoning. However, the diabetes cases affected more Aboriginal females than males. The ill health status affected all the age groups in the marginalized group.

Geographical locations also influenced the disparities in health incidences (Wilson & Cardwell, 2012). The Aboriginals living in the Northern had more cases of people suffering from diabetes than those living in the South. The hospitalization rate also was higher due to injuries in the Northern part. However, the southern Aboriginals had more premature death rates and lower life expectancy than those living in the North.

Factors accounting to the health disparities for the Aboriginal People

Health vulnerabilities, health management, and health behaviors are attributed to social determinants at a wider scope. The Aboriginal people experience social inequalities that create health problems. They are also restricted from accessing the properties that may help them in curbing the health issues. Therefore, social determinants influence dimensions of health.

Physical environment

The aboriginal people are restricted to small tracks of land called reserves. The settlements or reserve structure and the territories of the Aboriginal population acted as detrimental sources of health. The substantial housing shortages, poor quality of the homes and homelessness of urban Aboriginals lead to severe health issues such as asthma and allergies, especially to their children. The poor environment encourages the spread of the airborne diseases such as typhoid, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. They are faced with the food crisis, shelter issues, financial instability and health care problems. The poverty conditions of the aboriginal people have been worsened due to the tight government restrictions on the relief support. The Aboriginals in rural areas and reserves also face food insecurity due to the challenges of obtaining food from the markets due to transport cost involved. Also, inadequate resources and poor sanitation jeopardized their health status. Food insecurity thus accounts for health disparities to the Aboriginals.

Socio-political determinant

The Aboriginals underwent colonization that had an impact on their health. The colonization process diminished self-determination and lack of power and authority in the process of policy making that directly relate to them. The marginalized group has suffered losses where they lost land, resources and language. They have also faced a lot of racism and discrimination and social exclusion. The economic disadvantage they suffered from affected their health status since health disparities emerged between them and the non-Aboriginals.

Health behaviors

The relevant health behaviors of the Aboriginals include excessive smoking and misuse of alcohol. The health behaviors result in high rates of the heart diseases and lung cancer. The group also feeds on poor diet and lacks proper exercise leading to diabetes among Aboriginal adults and the youth.


According to Wilson and Cardwell (2012), education is a significant factor in the determination of the health status. Inadequate education hinders the ability to acquire knowledge and information about proper nutrition. The poor education for the Aboriginals also deprives them from attaining life skills. Hence they end up being unemployed or in low-paying jobs. Their living standard goes down due to poverty, increasing family instability. The uneducated Aboriginal parents also lack the capacity for educating their children. Poverty also causes the youth to drop out of school diminishing the rate of literacy and increasing poverty in the future generation of the Aboriginals. Hence, lack of education reduces the prospects for employment and health outcome resulting in health disparities.

Health care systems

The Aboriginals require political, social and physical access to health care services. There are limited accountability and complex structure of the federal system of health care for the First Nation. The health care system focuses much on the communicable diseases, ignoring the high mortality rate facing the Aboriginal people. Poverty reduces convenient accessibility to the health services among the Aboriginals. The Aboriginals live in remote areas and isolated communities that create economic barriers. The economic barriers deprive them from accessing the health care. Thus, health differences in Canada occur.


It is evident that economic and social inequalities are essential determinants of health status in the Canadian nation. Therefore, the Canadian government should take the initiative of alleviating the health differences in the nation. The government should not only focus on disparities on health alone, but also should come up with the policies of curbing social inequalities that result in health disparities in Canada. Tackling down the social determinants that lead to disease outcome is more important and influential on the population’s health. It also calls for the government participation and policy makers in the economy, to create change in the social and economic arrangement of the Canadian society. The issue of extreme income inequality needs to be addressed since it threatens the ability of the people to efficiently and creatively solve the significant economic, environmental and social challenges.


Elani, H. W., Harper, S., Allison, P. J., Bedos, C., & Kaufman, J. S. (2012). Socioeconomic inequalities and oral health in Canada and the United States. Journal of Dental Research, 91(9), 865-870.

Gushulak, B. D., Pottie, K., Roberts, J. H., Torres, S., & DesMeules, M. (2011). Migration and health in Canada: health in the global village. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 183(12), E952-E958.

Wang, J. L., Schmitz, N. & Dewa, C. S. (2010). Socioeconomic status and the risk of major depression: the Canadian National Population Health Survey. Journal of Epidemiology and community health, 64(5), 447-452.

Wilson, K. & Cardwell, N. (2012). Urban Aboriginal health: Examining inequalities between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal populations in Canada. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographecanadien, 56(1), 98-116.


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