January 27, 2014

McJobs mean McHealth and McEarly Death

H.G. Watson
Reprinted from Rabble.ca

For a minimum wage worker, how much does it cost to make a nutritious meal?

Let’s assume you’re a meat eater, and that you want at least one carb and one vegetable on your plate. You’ll also probably want something to drink. We’ll also assume you work in Ontario, where the minimum wage is $10.25.

To put together a meal of chicken, potatoes and carrots with milk to drink based on Canada’s average food prices, is going to run you about $16 -- just over an hour and half of work.

Apply the same test to trying to find a bachelor apartment. In Toronto, where the average rental rate is $873 a month, you would have to work 85 hours a month at minimum wage to pay for a bachelor apartment. That's slightly more than half a month's worth of regular, full-time hours. Whatever you have left over goes to food, utilities and other costs.

With that in mind it’s easy to understand why people would opt to take the crappier, yet cheaper, apartment, or perhaps eat off the dollar menu at McDonalds.

And these are just the averages.

The same person living on minimum wage in the far North is going to face much higher food costs -- milk can run up to $9 or $10 once you get into the Arctic circle. Or you might only work your minimum wage job 20 hours a week instead of the traditional 40, while relying on income subsidies to get by.

It is expensive to take good care of yourself in Canada. And the real cost? Human lives.

A Canadian Medical Association report from 2013 found that amongst people who made less than $40,000 a year, only 40 per cent said they lived in good health. And a 2013 Hamilton Spectator series on health care found a 21 year life expectancy gap between rich and poor areas of the city.

Poverty can be directly tied to multiple diseases, medical professionals argue, including cardiac diseases and diabetes.

And it has a cost for everyone that pays taxes in this country. Of the $200 billion spent on health care in Canada, the CMA estimates that 20 per cent of it is spent because of socio-economic disparities.

Read the full article, with links to the studies and reports, here.

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