Ottawa: Does wealth equal health? It seems so in Canada, according to the results of a public opinion survey.

Only 39 percent of those earning less than 30,000 Canadian dollars a year described their health as "very good" or "excellent", compared to 68 percent of those earning 60,000 dollars or more -- a gap of 29 percentage points, said the Ipsos Reid survey conducted last month for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

Three years ago, a similar survey found the gap between the two income groups was 17 percentage points, reported Xinhua.

John Haggie, president of the CMA, an Ottawa-based voluntary organisation that represents more than 76,000 Canadian physicians, said: "What is particularly worrisome for Canada's doctors is that in a nation as prosperous as Canada, the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' appears to be widening."

This year's survey, conducted as part of the CMA's 12th Annual National Report Card on Health Care, found that as a result of the economic downturn, nearly half (46 percent) of those with household incomes of less than 30,000 dollars a year spent less time, energy and money on sustaining their health compared to 19 percent of those earning 60,000 dollars or more.

Education also plays a significant role. Those with a high school education or less were also nearly twice as likely as those with a university education to have spent less time, energy, and money sustaining their health.

The findings are from an online poll by Ipsos of 1,004 Canadians, July 23 to 30, and a telephone poll July 25 to 30, conducted on behalf of the CMA.

Health care services

In 2009, there was no difference between lower and higher-income Canadians in whether they accessed health care services within the past month.

This year, 59 percent of Canadians earning less than 30,000 dollars annually reported accessing health-care services within the past month compared to 43 percent of those earning 60,000 dollars or more.

"We as Canadians tend to think we have a fair society and an equitable public health-care system, when, in reality, there are vast numbers of Canadians who are forced to do without when it comes to health care," said Haggie.

Under Canada's publicly funded universal health insurance system, known as medicare, Canadian residents do not pay for necessary medical services provided either in a doctor's office or in a hospital.

The gap between low and high-income groups has also widened in terms of body perception.

The 2012 survey found that 38 percent of Canadians earning less than 30,000 dollars a year said they were "very" or "somewhat" overweight compared to 32 percent of those earning 60,000 dollars or more.

In 2009, there was no income-related difference. Similarly, 22 percent of the poor group has very or somewhat overweight children, compared to 9 percent of the rich group.


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