Health equity for professionals

Health care providers play an important role in promoting opportunity for all and addressing the determinants of health. As a health care provider, you can create change in a client’s life simply by initiating a conversation about his or her socioeconomic status and having the capacity to help.

This section includes a three-step clinical tool that was developed by Drs. Larisa Eibisch, Gary Bloch, Katie Dorman, Danyaal Raza, and Esther Ernst. The tool can be used to address poverty in primary care, and the web-based resources can help you and your clients navigate income support systems.

Treating poverty: Three step clinical tool1

Screen (Ask)

Poverty is everywhere but it is not always apparent. You should screen everyone. Ask your client, “Do you ever have difficulty making ends?”

Adjust risk

Like with other risk factors, include poverty into clinical decision-making. Research has shown that growing up in poverty has been associated with increased adult morbidity and mortality resulting in a number of risk factors, for example:


By asking these simple questions to your clients, you can help them by providing information about income security programs.

For everybody

Have you filled out and mailed in your tax forms?

For seniors living in poverty

Do you receive Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement?

For families with children

Do you receive the Canada Child Benefit on the 20th of every month?

For people or children with a disability

Do you receive Disability Benefits?

For Indigenous people

Do you have a Status Card and have you used Non-Insured Health Benefits:

For social assistance recipients

Have you applied for the Government of Canada extra income supplements?
Have you applied for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)?

For more information on the tool

Please visit the Ontario College of Family Physicians and Primary Care Interventions in Poverty for more information about the clinical tool.

Benefits finder tool

Use this tool from the Government of Canada to get a customized list of benefits for which your client may be eligible.

Income referral resources

To find programs and services in your community, connect to 2-1-1 helpline or to the 211 online database that provides information on, and referrals to, Ontario’s community, social, health and government services.

For additional local resources visit for health related resources, events, and news specific to your area.

Health care provider links to social determinants of health

View a few relevant links and other professional resources about the social determinants of health.


Canadian Dental Association


Dietitians of Canada


Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Paediatric Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Canadian Nurses Association
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

Social workers

Ontario Association of Social Workers

1 Eibisch, L., Bloch, G., Dorman, K., Raza, D., & Ernst, E. Treating Poverty: An approach to office-based poverty intervention & income replacement programs for family physicians [PowerPoint slides].

This item was last modified on July 16, 2019