Good health to all: Reducing health inequalities among children in high-and low-income Canadian families
Authors: Claire De Oliveira
In recent years, the health and well being of Canadian children in low-income families has been identified as a policy priority, but policymakers need to have a clear understanding of the available tools to improve their health outcomes. This Commentary examines the relationship between household income and children’s health, and finds that the health and education of parents play an even more significant role than household income in determining children’s health status. Moreover, since very large transfers of income to relatively poor households would be needed to have a substantial impact on children’s health outcomes, such incomerelated policies should be de-emphasized, in favour of in-kind transfers of goods and services from the provinces. Specific recommendations include evaluating the implementation of in-kind transfers – healthy breakfasts and lunches, for example – through the school system; implementing policies that improve and promote the health of parents and the awareness of healthy lifestyles; improving the National Child Benefit by broadening the range of services delivered under the program; and providing a more consistent network of health services at the provincial level. Furthermore, the study concludes that children, rather than their parents, should be the direct recipients of in-kind transfers, and governments should charge a graduated system of fees based on household income for universal child-targeted programs.
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