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IntroductionOver the past quarter century there has been a growing body of support for the importance of understanding the relationship between poor living conditions and ill-health. These conditions have been referred to as the social determinants of health. There has been a strong push amongst policy makers to study the non-medical determinants of health as opposed to the traditional narrow way of thinking with regards to medical treatments or lifestyle choices (Mikkonen, Raphael 2010). Income and income distribution is thought to be the most important of the social determinants of health because it further influences other social determinants of health for example, low-income families are forced to live under circumstances of material and social deprivation which make it very difficult for families to be able to afford the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and housing (Kekkonen, Raphael 2010). Studies have shown that suicide rates and the onset of many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease is significantly more prevalent amongst low income Canadians than there more affluent counter-parts. One policy that has often been implemented by governments as a means to alleviate poverty and to increase income equality is the minimum wage policy. There has been an ongoing debate over whether increasing the minimum wage is an effective policy to alleviate poverty in society and provide a more equal distribution of wealth or, if it has further negative implications on the working poor due to the effects that minimum wage policies have on employment and the job market. This paper will explore the historical background of the minimum wage and discuss the reasons for its establishment. Both sides to the argument…

…inimum wages when set to meet or exceed Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-Off can help ensure that all workers receive at least a fair and just wage for their labour (Goldberg, green 1999). One’s level of income determines their overall living conditions and this determines a number of other social determinants of health such as food security or housing. Inappropriate minimum wages and income inequalities lead to material and social deprivation which further leads to poor health because the basic needs for health such as food, clothing and housing cannot be afforded. Policies to reduce poverty such as increasing minimum wages appropriately to meet the true costs of living needs to be addressed by governments and policy makers immediately and this will also help to alleviate cost pressures on our healthcare system (Raphael, Mikkonen).

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