News / Toronto

Everyday Political Citizens: Meet Dr. Samantha Green, fighting poverty through healthcare

“I want to use the power and privilege that comes with being a doctor to ... advocate for systemic change," says Dr. Samantha Green.

As a doctor in downtown Toronto, Samantha Green is pushing the city to address the “social determinants” of health, including poverty, education and housing.

Courtesy Ryan Bolton

As a doctor in downtown Toronto, Samantha Green is pushing the city to address the “social determinants” of health, including poverty, education and housing.

Every year, Samara Canada’s Everyday Political Citizen project honours Canadians making positive changes in their communities. The winner of the 2016 contest will be announced Dec. 8.

Metro is profiling the seven EPC nominees in the Greater Toronto Area. Today, we meet Dr. Samantha Green, who works to provide healthcare to some of the city's most vulnerable residents. 

When it comes to tackling poverty, Dr. Samantha Green is tired of “band-aid” solutions.

A family doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto, Green spends her days tackling health problems in one of the city’s poorest postal codes. She also chairs Health Providers Against Poverty and works with Inner City Health Associates to offer medical services to those using Toronto’s shelter system.

The experience has shown her how deeply intertwined a person’s health is with their socioeconomic status.

“The patients that I see are often marginalized and living in poverty. They’re facing systemic barriers to good health, like low incomes and racism,” she said.

Green uses her position as a doctor to advocate for a broader approach to healthcare, one that considers the “social determinants” of health. “We screen for smoking all the time, because we know it leads to poor health outcomes. So we should be screening for poverty or precarious housing and using that in our decision making,” she says.

Her efforts have been recognized by Samara Canada, which has nominated her for this year’s Everyday Political Citizen award.

“If more Canadian medical professionals had her selfless attitude, imagine how much healthier Canadian society would be,” said Everyday Political Citizen juror Jonathan Kay.

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