Queen’s Park should boost welfare payments and improve access to disability assistance for Ontarians who can’t work for health reasons as a remedy for chronic health problems among the poor, says a new report.

People on welfare are 10 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those living on middle- or upper-incomes, notes the report, which is to be released today.

Even taking into account other factors such as smoking, disabilities and a lack of education or physical activity, a low household income continued to be strongly associated with ill health, says the report, produced by the Community Social Planning Council, with the University of Toronto and the Wellesley Institute. Median household income for those on welfare in the study was $13,000. Median for the working poor was $21,000.

The latter were healthier than those on welfare, but less so than Ontarians in higher income levels, according to the report, which draws on provincial data in Statistics Canada’s 2005 community health survey.