Making the news today in Canada is a new report that shows the degree to which the economic “downturn” (put politely) is literally sickening Canadians. On the other hand, “upturns” are sometimes accompanied by increased consumption of meat (and the added hormones), increased obesity and diabetes. The sickness described is the sickness of stress and loss, rather than gain.
As reported by the CBC, “the economic downturn has affected how Canadians care for their health, particularly those in the lowest income groups â€” with people eating and sleeping less, spending less on prescriptions and skipping medical and dental appointments.” This is according to the 9th annual National Report Card on Health Care in Canada, published by the Canadian Medical Association. Listed among the study’s findings, based on a survey of over 4,000 Canadians (see pages 18 through 21):
- 40% feel stressed and/or overwhelmed by financial concerns. Among those who earn less than $30,000, that number rises to 51%.
- 25% said they have delayed or canceled a dentist appointment as a result of financial worries. The figure is 34% among Canadians who earn less than $30,000.
- 16% of those polled said they skip meals to save money, with the figure rising to 28% per cent in the lowest income bracket.
- 32% have spent less money on food, nationally, with 44% of people in lower income groups cutting back on spending on food.
- 23% said they are losing sleep over economic worries, with the figure rising to 33% among those without a university degree.
- 14% said they had delayed or stopped buying their prescription medications because money was tight.
(In terms of sleep loss, one can make impressionistic observations of marked differences in ostensible sleeping patterns as likely evidenced by the number of darkened homes/apartments in different class neighbourhoods. For example, I live in a polarized mixed-class setting, with buildings occupied by working-class tenants (paying as low as $600 per month in rent), and luxury condos where even two-bedroom units can sell for over a million dollars. At night, the dwellings of the wealthy are almost always totally dark after midnight, while in those of the working-class numerous lights remain on, lights from televisions flickering, computer screens lit, etc., suggesting activity going on through the night.)
The interesting coincidence in the appearance of this report is that it accompanies news of tumbling stock markets, as investors catch up to the reality that the “recession” has severely impacted the middle- and working-classes, with less money to spend, increased job losses, foreclosures, little or no saving, and massive personal debt. News of the resurrection of the economy have been wildly exaggerated.
It is one of those “mysteries” of capitalism where investors can experience “confidence” and “hope” even while job losses increase — one has to wonder: who do they think would be purchasing their products?