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Dr. Gary Bloch appointed to Ontario’s Income Security Reform Working Group

Toronto, July 13, 2016

By Kaitlyn Patterson

Dr. Gary Bloch
Dr. Gary Bloch doesn’t always believe the first stop a patient makes after receiving a prescription has to be at the pharmacy. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

Dr. Gary Bloch, a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital, has been appointed to Ontario’s Income Security Reform Working Group.

The Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek has asked the group to develop a fair, adequate and simple income security system, and to improve the structure of the social assistance system.

“Our goal is to provide the government of Ontario with a suggested framework and timeline for social assistance and income security reform,” said Dr. Bloch. “Once we have a framework with clear goals, we expect to see real, positive change for people living at low income.”

Dr. Bloch is the chair of the Social Determinants of Health Committee in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michael’s. The committee, which includes four patients, is dedicated to addressing how social factors such as income, literacy and employment status affect a person’s health. The World Health Organization recently recognized St. Michael’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for such ongoing work enhancing primary care delivery in Toronto’s inner-city community.

“In my experience, living at low income has the biggest impact on a person’s health,” said Dr. Bloch. “Being involved in this group is a major opportunity to improve the income stability and security for Ontarians living at low income, which I expect will improve their health.”

Dr. Bloch said volunteering for this working group is intimately tied to his responsibilities as a health provider.

“As a health expert, I look forward to bringing forth health-focused evidence, expertise about evaluating income-focused programs through a health perspective, and a very real perspective from patient stories,” said Dr. Bloch. “This expertise will be important when providing advice and recommendations to the Ontario government.”

Dr. Bloch was a founding member of Health Providers Against Poverty, a health intervention that is working toward eliminating poverty and reducing inequity. He also helped establish Inner City Health Associates, a group of 60 physicians working to improve health care for homeless people in Toronto. He’s also co-chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians Committee on Poverty and Health, a committee that seeks to increase Ontario family physicians’ abilities to address poverty as a risk to health, and to reduce the impact of poverty on health.

Ontario’s Income Security Reform Working Group first met on June 30, and it will continue to meet over the next 12 months. Led by George Thomson, senior director of the National Judicial Institute and a former Ontario provincial court judge, the working group will provide its recommendations to the government next summer.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.