The first and most important step is to identify those who live in poverty.
Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care Providers is designed to be used over a series of visits and use it to:
- Screen all patients using a key question identified as a good predictor of poverty.
- Consider that new immigrants, women, Indigenous peoples and LGBTQ+ people are among the highest risk groups.
- Understand that otherwise low risk patients who live in poverty are at higher risk for certain health conditions.
- Intervene, educate and support patients to access tax and other government benefits and connect them with resources and services.
The Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) have collaborated on an initiative to expand and disseminate the Ontario poverty tool for primary care providers across the country. The Ontario version of this tool has been modified for the participating provinces/territories.
Social accountability and equity of care are important components of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s strategic plan. Poverty screening is a significant part of addressing these goals. See below to access these tools by province or territory.
Poverty tool by province or territory
Please click on the province or territory below to access the tool, which can be downloaded by clicking on the expanded thumbnail.
- Are more likely to report having diabetes than higher-earning individuals.
- Experience elevated risk of hypertension, arthritis, COPD, asthma, and multiple chronic conditions.
- Experience cardiovascular disease at a rate 17% higher than the average Canadian.
- Have 58% higher rates of depression than the Canadian average.
- Experience higher rates of lung, oral, and cervical cancer.
Children in low-income families are at higher risk of:
- Low birth weight
- Mental health problems
- Micronutrient deficiencies
There is no internationally-accepted definition of poverty and no clear consensus on how it should be measured. In Canada many people use Statistics Canada’s low income cut-off lines as a way of understanding who is living in poverty. By this measure, approximately 15% of Canadians, including 1 in 7 children, live in poverty. New immigrants, women, Indigenous peoples and LGBTQ+ people are among the highest risk groups.
The most important first step in addressing poverty is to identify those who live with it. Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care Providers was developed to help primary care providers screen patients and link those living in poverty to important resources.
This Tool is one of several resources developed as part of the 2014 to 2017 Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative. This multi-year initiative was a collaboration between the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP), Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP), and Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO). Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, this initiative supported primary care providers with the development of a series of clinical tools and health information resources. Learn more about the Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative.
As part of this initiative, CEP conducted a Primary Care Needs Assessment to determine topics of interest to primary care providers. In this survey providers identified the need for more effective resources to help patients who are living in poverty.
The Poverty Tool was developed using CEP’s integrated knowledge translation development methods. CEP ensures that health care providers are engaged throughout the tool development process, using a User Centered Design methodology to test the usability of tools from a provider perspective.
Meet the Team
Gary Bloch, MD, CCFP, FCF
Gary Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and co-Chair of the OCFP’s Committee on Poverty and Health. His clinical, education, program development, and research interests focus on the intersection between poverty and health, and specifically on what primary care providers can do to address poverty as a health issue. Dr. Bloch is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and a founding member of the advocacy group Health Providers Against Poverty and of Inner City Health Associates, a group of physicians who work with the homeless across Toronto. He has developed curriculum for medical students, residents and practicing physicians on poverty interventions. He has also been heavily involved in the creation and evaluation of health team interventions into the social factors that impact health. He is frequently asked to speak on these topics, to health provider and public audiences. His work has been featured in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the CBC, and other media outlets.
Copyright & Disclaimer
Creative Commons License
Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care Providers is a product of the Centre for Effective Practice. Permission to use, copy and distribute this material for all non-commercial and research purposes is granted, provided that all copies, modifications, and distributions contain full reproductions of this Creative Commons License and the following Disclaimer along with appropriate citations. Use of the Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care Providers for commercial purposes or any modifications of the tool are subject to charge and use must be negotiated with Centre for Effective Practice (Email: [email protected]).
For statistical and bibliographic purposes, please notify the Centre for Effective Practice ([email protected]) of any use or reprinting of the tool.
Please use this citation when referencing the tool:
Reprinted with Permission from Centre for Effective Practice (May 2016). Poverty: A Clinical Tool For Primary Care Providers. Toronto: Centre for Effective Practice.
Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care Providers (the “Tool”) contains links to websites and other external resources (“Third Party Resources”) that are operated by and/or created by third party organizations. These third party organizations are solely responsible for the information contained in, and the operation of (as applicable), their respective Third Party Resource(s).
This Tool was developed for licensed health care professionals in Canada as a guide only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Primary care providers and other health care professionals are required to exercise their own clinical judgment in using this Tool.
Neither the Centre for Effective Practice (“CEP”), College of Family Physicians of Canada, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, Government of Ontario, the contributors to this Tool, nor any of their respective agents, appointees, directors, officers, employees, contractors, members or volunteers: (i) are providing medical, diagnostic or treatment services through this Tool; (ii) to the extent permitted by applicable law, accept any responsibility for the use or misuse of this Tool by any individual including, but not limited to, primary care providers, or entity, including for any loss, damage or injury (including death) arising from or in connection with the use of this Tool, in whole or in part; or (iii) give or make any representation, warranty or endorsement of any of the Third Party Resources, that are owned or operated by third parties, including any information or advice contained therein.