Primary Care Interventions in Poverty

Prescribing Income

Poverty represents a significant and reversible risk factor for poor health. Family physicians can help.
For example, for people living in poverty, access to the appropriate public programs and services can have significant positive impact, and many of these resources may be unlocked by filing a tax return.

Beyond tax time, from learning to screen for poverty to understanding the social determinants of health, we encourage you to check out the resources on this page and learn about ways to "prescribe income" to help some of your most vulnerable patients. 

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

Understanding your rights and obligations and the benefits of filing an income tax and benefit return is an important aspect of financial literacy. Did you know there could be people in your community who are missing out on important tax credits and benefits that they may be entitled to because they are not filing an income tax and benefit return?

This free program helps many individuals such as social assistance recipients, seniors, students, newcomers to Canada, and persons with a disability. It also helps to maintain uninterrupted access to government benefits and entitlements. Each year, thousands of organizations and individuals support the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) as volunteers, completing tax returns for people in their community. 

New Process and Forms for Ontario Disability Support Program

March 2018 

An e-learning module and supporting resources are available, covering the new process and forms for medical reviews of current clients of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The module was created by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services and includes information about remuneration and invoicing.

Resources from MCSS


Treating Poverty

Sometimes it's easy to spot patients struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes it's not.

The OCFP's award-winning Treating Poverty workshop is designed for family doctors and other members of the health-care team who work closely with those living in poverty. In this active learning workshop, participants learn to screen for poverty, access and understand the resources available to address poverty and other social determinants of health, and understand the impact of poverty on health and risk factors, and get evidence-based tools to use in practice.

The program was certified in 2016 and earns the highest level of CPD certified for family physicians. In addition to the up to 18 Group Learning credits for the in-person workshop, additional Self-Learning credits are also awarded for the mandatory preparatory and follow up activities.
Host a Treating Poverty workshop close to home! The Treating Poverty workshop is available by request. To learn more or request a workshop, please contact the OCFP's CME department by email at [email protected].

Poverty Tool for Primary Care

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 participating provinces/territories. Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care directs providers to use key questions to assess their patients’ living situations and current benefits, and includes links to key government and community resources to support positive interventions.

Watch the introductory video featuring Dr. Gary Bloch.

Download the Tool 

Tools and Resources Developed by the OCFP and Partners

CFPC Best Advice Guide on Social Determinants of Health

Best Advice Guide on Social Determinants of Health

The College of Family Physicians of Canada has published a guide about the role family doctors can play in improving patients’ social determinants of health, which are the social and economic conditions into which a person is born, lives or works that can influence their overall health.

The Best Advice Guide: Social Determinants of Health provides practical advice about how doctors can treat patients’ immediate needs, while also addressing the underlying social conditions that lead to poor health.

Have you heard about 211?

Ontario 211

This service helps seniors, low income families, newcomers and all Ontarians with questions about health, resources income support and more. Can you help your patients put it to work for them? Find out more at or watch the 211 video in English or French to learn how it can help your patients.

Child Poverty: A Practical Tool for Primary Care

Child Poverty

Quick tip: Screen everyone

"Do you ever have trouble making ends meet at the end of the month?"

Poverty is not always apparent...we can’t make assumptions.

If You Want to Help Me, Prescribe Me Money

In this TEDx talk, Toronto family physician Dr. Gary Bloch, draws on his practice experience to suggest how family doctors can "prescribe income" and other ideas to help make poverty treatable. 
Note: This talk was organized by TEDxStouffville.

Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

Did you know that the non-refundable Disability Tax Credit (DTC) can help people with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay? Unused amounts may be transferred to a spouse or a supporting person.

Use Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate to apply. Part B must be completed by a medical practitioner and returned to the Canada Revenue Agency.

For further information about the DTC, go to or call 1-800-959-8281. For information in French, go to or call 1-800-959-7383.

Poverty Intervention Resources

 OCFP Poverty Committee  
Click the pic!