One-third of paid employees in Ontario don’t have employer-provided medical or dental benefits, says a report.
The report from Wellesley Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank, also notes that fewer than one in five people earning less than $10,000 receive benefits through their employer.
Fewer than one-third of people earning $20,000 or less annually receive employer-provided health benefits. This means most people working at or near minimum wage do not have access to health benefits.
The share of employees who receive employer-provided health benefits increases as earnings increase. It’s not until individual earnings exceed $60,000 that nine out of 10 employees have access to health benefits.
“While Ontario provides a patchwork of health benefits that cover prescription drugs and dental and vision care to selected populations, people who are working but who have low earnings are likely to fall through the gaps,” the report says. “They are not eligible for public benefits and are less likely to have employer-provided benefits.”
Cost can be a major barrier to accessing uninsured health services for Ontarians with low income.
About 9% of residents don’t fill medical prescriptions because of cost, and more than one in five Ontarians with household income between $15,000 and $29,999 report that cost is a barrier to accessing dental care.
“Employer-provided health benefits plans provide access to essential health services for a large number of Ontarians, but many low-wage and precarious jobs do not include these benefits,” the report states. “This means that people with low income who can least afford to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs, dental or vision care find themselves shut out from public and private plans.”